USMC Blows Millions on Surveillance Drones That Launch Like a Model Plane

With their incredible utility more than proven in the war raging in Ukraine, drones of various types and uses are getting increased attention from the world’s militaries, which are now willing to spend millions to get their hands on the most advanced such systems. And in the hand-launched military drone segment, they don’t get more advanced than the Puma 3.
AeroVironment Puma 3 7 photos
Photo: AeroVironment
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That would be a contraption assembled in the facilities of AeroVironment, and destined to be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering. The machine has a wingspan of 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) and weighs just 15 pounds (7 kg).

It’s so light, in fact, that it can be launched by hand, in a fashion not unlike the one we used if we wanted to launch model planes for the greatest distance possible back when we were kids. For the record, this one though can also be launched by bungee, rail, or vehicle.

Once airborne, the drones can travel for as much as 37 miles (60 km), being capable of staying in the air for 2.5 hours at a time. It can carry with it a variety of payloads, depending on the needs of its operator.

Last time we’ve heard something about the Puma 3 was back in the summer of last year, when the U.S. Air Force (USAF) signed a $15 million contract with AeroVironment for the delivery of Puma 3 drones and spare parts for them, but also for another drone called Raven.

This summer, another military branch steps into the spotlight, namely the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC). AeroVironment announced this week it received an almost $6.2 contract for the delivery of an undisclosed number of Puma 3s.

“Puma 3 AE has proven itself as the ideal solution for low-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in any operational environment and continues to serve as the backbone of the U.S. Marine Corps Medium Range/Medium Endurance Forces,” said in a statement Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president.

The company says it should deliver the drones it owes as a result of this contract sometime next month.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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