US-based aircraft technology company AeroVironment has upgraded the all-environment Puma 3 small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to be operational in more challenging radio frequency (RF) environments.

The airframe of the unmanned aircraft has been modified and modernised to support the effective operation of its i45 electro-optical / infrared (EO / IR) sensor suite with signals intelligence (SIGINT) payloads in harsh and demanding environments.

The Puma 3 is also equipped with AeroVironment’s latest digital data link (DDL) with security upgrades that would enable the UAS to perform in challenging RF environments, with M1 / M2 / M5 and M3 / M4 / M6 frequency bands, in addition to AES-256 encryption.

AeroVironment Tactical UAS Business vice-president David Sharpin said: “We are in constant communication with our customers to ensure they have the most innovative and advanced small drones to successfully complete their missions.

“The new Puma 3 includes air vehicle upgrades for operation in even more rugged environments than before.”

“As a result of their feedback, the new Puma 3 includes air vehicle upgrades for operation in even more rugged environments than before, improved ability to support advanced third-party payloads and software applications, and reliability in challenging electronic warfare / cyber environments where interference is prevalent.”

With an aim to use advanced battery technology, the company is set to launch a new Puma smart battery that would be more efficient and include improved safety features.

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The company has also optimised the portability of Puma from six transport cases to four, featuring a flyable configuration in a single transport case that includes luggage-type handles.

AeroVironment is also developing an upgrade to the RQ-11B Raven small UAS that will feature a new camera technology integrated into the i23 gimbaled sensor, which would be similar to the enhancements made to the Puma 3 aircraft and its i45 gimbal.