AeroVironment is one of the companies used to making such hand-launched devices. It’s fleet includes the Raven, but also the Puma 3 we’re here to talk about now.
The Puma 3 is described as a tool designed for surveillance and intelligence gathering. It’s small enough to be launched from the arms of a soldier – 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) wingspan, and a weight of 15 pounds (7 kg) – but can spy on enemy forces for up to 2.5 hours at a time. The Puma can travel for 37 miles (60 km), and packs sensors and cameras that according to its maker gives it “a level of imaging capability never before available in the tactical UAS class.”
AeroVironment announced at the end of last week it has received a serious order for Puma drones totaling $11 million. The orders come as part of a contract signed last year with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). The drones will be deployed by the forces of several NATO countries, and deliveries are expected to begin in the summer of this year.
AeroVironment is responsible for the largest UAS fleet deployed by the American military, with close to 20,000 such devices in service right now. The company also serves some of the drone needs of around 50 of America's allied countries.