Cpl. Christopher Chladny (right) and Staff Sgt. Joshua Rygiel fly the Raven using their navigation computer near Tikrit, Iraq. The aircraft has cameras mounted on it for surveillance of possible enemy activity.
March 15, 2006 After the incredible response to yesterday’s story on weaponised micro unmanned aerial vehicles, it is interesting to note AeroVironment’s significant production milestone of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SUAV) systems that was announced today. The Raven (RQ-11A), a manpackable SUAV used by the U.S. Army and Special Forces since 2002, has surpassed the 3,000th air vehicle mark for production. The Raven is a 4.2 pound, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, near-real-time video imagery for "over the hill" intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of a ground commander. Made of Kevlar and costing US$25,000, it has a range of 80 minutes at up to 90 km/h and can venture up to 15 kilometres from its controller. No greater praise can be given than by those who use the Raven and this can be evidenced at the always excellent military website StrategyPage which reports that the Raven is winning what it terms the unofficial “Commando Olympics.” StrategyPage reports that in addition to the cooperation between the commando units of over a dozen countries assembled to pursue Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s a lot of comparing notes – and the most envied high tech gadget of them all is the Raven.