The US Air Force has placed a $2.5m contract with AeroVironment for delivery of its newly launched Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS).

The contract forms part of USAF’s battlefield air targeting micro air vehicle (BATMAV) programme.

The selection follows stringent engineering and user trials of the system over a one-year period, to ensure compliance with the BATMAV programme requirements.

AeroVironment senior vice president and Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment general manager, Roy Minson, said the Wasp AE systems are being effectively used by the US government and the company’s mission services team.

"We believe that other military and non-military customers in the United States and abroad will find Wasp AE a compelling solution to support their tactical operations," Minson added.

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By GlobalData

An all environment version of AeroVironment’s combat proven Wasp III Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), the Wasp AE is a small, portable, reliable, and rugged unmanned aerial platform designed for conducting land and maritime operations.

Incorporating the smallest of AeroVironment’s Mantis suite of miniature gimballed payloads, the system transmits advanced imagery, increased endurance and encrypted video.

The drone is capable of 20% greater flight duration than the Wasp III variant, and is equipped with a digital data link, to support interoperability with other small unmanned aerial vehicles.

Minson said: "Wasp AE completes our fully digital family of small unmanned aircraft systems and incorporates the advanced capabilities of Puma and Raven into a smaller, lighter and more portable package for rapid deployment and minimal logistics support."

The system was previously purchased by the US Marine Corps (USMC) and USAF for conducting small unit tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

Image: Wasp AE SUAS being launched by a soldier. Photo: courtesy of AeroVironment.