February 11, 2009 AeroVironment, Inc. will produce 50 new Raven RQ-11B unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) equipped with enhanced communications following the announcement of a USD$16.8 Million order from the U.S. Army on January 22. The company's new Digital Data Link (DDL) replaces the original four-channel analog set-up, increasing communication channels by a factor of four and allowing more of the unmanned craft to be flown in one area simultaneously.

“This Digital Data Link enhances the capabilities of our Raven® system by increasing the number of communication channels by a factor of four, enabling our customers to use more Raven® systems where they need them,” said John Grabowsky, executive vice president and general manager of AV’s UAS segment. “Our DDL also provides enhanced communications security, and establishes the foundation for a new, highly capable and portable communications network over the battlefield. This marks the transition of an important research and development program into production.”

The DDL was designed to match the weight, volume and power parameters of the 4.2 pound Raven, and AV is working on a version for the smallest UAS in its stable, the 15 ounce Wasp.

The hand-launched, man-packable Raven is capable of capturing real-time video imagery both day and night for surveillance and target acquisition.

The $16,758,776 order includes DDL retrofit kits for 206 existing Raven systems.

Via: AeroVironment.