The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) selected the Puma AE mini-UAV as its All Environment Capable Variant (AECV), a multi-purpose, hand-held mini-UAV to satisfy the command’s requirements in a single platform. SOCOM is expected to award AeroVironment Inc.(NASDAQ: AVAV) a contract for the first year (The initial delivery order valued at about $6 million is already funded), and has options to extend the program over five years up to a maximum value of US$200 million. The selection culminates AV’s marketing efforts that included demonstrating the Puma’s suitability for a wide range of climatic and environmental operating conditions, including deployment at sea.
Puma AE is the third generation of the AeroVironment Puma mini UAV designed to land near-vertically on both land and water. It is equipped with a day- and night-capable, waterproof sensor package that provides image tracking, image stabilization and high-image quality. The system incorporates the same hand-held Ground Control Unit used by U.S. Department of Defense and allied military customers to control the Raven and Wasp systems. Ship-based use of Puma AE requires no modification to naval vessels, enabling easy integration into maritime operations.
The AECV program represents the fourth U.S. Department of Defense full and open competition for a small UAS program of record, and the fourth such competition won by AV. Previeous, ongoing programs includes delivery of Raven A, the Raven B selected for the ‘Small UAV’ program by the US Army, and Wasp III to the Marine Corps, under the BATMAV program.