January 9, 2008 The United States Air Force BATMAV (Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle) program with AeroVironment's Wasp III Micro Air Vehicle has received approval for Full Rate Production. The Wasp is a small, portable, reliable, and rugged unmanned aerial platform designed for front-line day/night reconnaissance and surveillance.
The result of a multi-year joint development effort between AeroVironment and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Wasp is 16 inches (38 cm) long, has a of wingspan of 29 inches (72 cm), weighs just 430 grams (around one pound), can be controlled manually or programmed for GPS-based autonomous navigation and can carry interchangeable targeting payload modules including an infrared camera, along with two integrated color cameras that transmit streaming video directly to the hand-held ground controller.
The hand-launched Wasp III has a 5 km range (Line-of-Sight), operates continuously for approximately 45 minutes at 40-65 km/h and to altitudes of 1,000 ft (300 m). There is also a water landing version in development.
For system interoperability, Wasp uses the same advanced technology found in other AeroVironment small UAS systems, such as Raven RQ11-B, Swift and Puma - which recently set a 7 hour flight record for fuel cell powered MAVs - and is controllable through a common Ground Control Station.
The BATMAV program milestone comes less than a year after the US Air Force selected AV's Wasp III as the MAV for the Program in December 2006.
"Achieving full rate production in just 11 months from contract award reflects our team's efforts, working closely with our customers, to satisfy program requirements quickly and efficiently," said John Grabowsky, executive vice president and general manager, AV Unmanned Aircraft Systems. "The rapid achievement of full rate production means that we can now produce our Wasp III systems in higher volumes so that our customers can deploy them to the front-line units who need them.".
In November 2007 the U.S. Marine Corps awarded AV a $19.3 million contract for Wasp III MAV systems. The Marines plan to deploy Wasp at the Platoon level and use it as a complement to their Raven small UAS systems, which they currently deploy at the company and battalion levels.