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ADS has awarded a firm fixed-price order to AeroVironment for RQ-20A Puma AE small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and initial spares packages.

The $13m contract was awarded on behalf of the US Marine Corps (USMC) through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Tailored Logistics Support (TLS) programme.

AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment vice-president and general manager Kirk Flittie said: "The Puma AE unmanned aircraft system delivers situational awareness directly to its operator in ground, riverine and maritime operations.

"Working with the professionals at ADS, we continue to support the Marine Corps with reliable, easy-to-use UAS solutions that help give them information superiority on the battlefield."

"We continue to support the Marine Corps with reliable, easy-to-use UAS solutions that help give information superiority on the battlefield."

Delivery under the order is scheduled to take place within 12 months.

Designed to complement the AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven and RQ-12A Wasp AE UAS, the Puma AE system is used by the USMC as the long-range solution for its small unit remote scouting system (SURSS).

The 13.5lb Puma AE is a third-generation, portable and hand-launched small UAS and is designed primarily to conduct intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance missions.

Comprising three aircraft, two ground control stations, and spares, the backpackable sensor platform is designed to deliver live, streaming colour and infrared video, as well as laser illumination from its pan-tilt-zoom Mantis i23 AE gimballed at line-of-sight ranges up to 15km.

In August this year, the company received a series of contracts from the US Army for sustainment of RQ-11B Raven and RQ-20A Puma AE UAS.

Image: A US marine launches the Puma unmanned aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Sgt Bobby J Yarbrough.