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 that should satisfy all the command’s requirements in a single platform. SOCOM is expected to award AeroVironment (AV) Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) an award 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 climatc and environmental operations 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.