Today, the US Army uses the Raven as an organic mini-UAV operated at battalion level. The 4.2 lbs (1.9kg) Raven can operate at ranges up to 10 km. Originally designed for operation at battalion level, the U.S. Army uses the Raven mini-UAV at company and platoon levels, to provide “over the hill” intelligence quick response missions in direct support of the battalion’s activities.
Ravens are supporting Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan, enhancing U.S. Army, Special Operation (SOCOM) forces and other services, performing reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA). Since 2004, the Army bought 1,000 Raven systems, comprising of 3,000 air vehicles.
So far, AeroVironment, the producer of Raven announced the total production of 3,000 vehicles. As of November 2005, Raven became the official US Army Small UAV (SUAV), responding to a USSOCOM Operational Requirements Document (ORD). The buy is for 1,328 systems plus training and logistics support. The Air Force is also procuring the Raven mini-UAV which will be used with the larger Pointer UAV already in service with Air Force Special Operation units.
In May 2010 AeroVironment announced it received an order valued over $11million under an existing contract with the U.S. Army. The order comprises 63 new digital Raven small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), services supporting the Army’s evaluation of the small UAS Family of Systems concept and additional engineering services. Each Raven system typically consists of three aircraft, two ground control stations and spares.
With this recent order the total value of orders for Raven awarded by the Army under the joint small UAS program of record this year has exceeds $18 million, funding the production of 114 new digital Raven systems under the existing U.S. Army contract that had previously been announced by the Department of Defense. In addition, the Army has ordered 216 datalink kits retrofitting analog Ravens with AV’s digital data links. The Army is the contracting authority for the program, procuring the Raven for Army, Marine Corps, Special Operations Command and other U.S. military services. AV has delivered thousands of small unmanned aircraft to date. International purchasers of Raven systems include Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain.