Feeds

Aerovironment sells hurl 'n' splash roboplane to US spec-ops

Snake-eaters SEAL $200m porta-drone deal

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The US Special Operations Command, SOCOM - aka the "snake eater community"* - has just placed a new order for hand-launched aerial surveillance robots which could be worth up to $200m and see hundreds of portable drones delivered.

The potentially very lucky company is Aerovironment, already well known for such projects as the Helios solar-powered unmanned megawing built for NASA - not to mention ongoing efforts like the Global Observer high-altitude hydrogen spyplane and the three-inch "Nano Air Vehicle" ornithopter droid. Military robo-planes are a key area of business for the company, which offers a wide range of such systems.

In this case, the product purchased is the Puma All-Environment, or Puma AE. It is thrown into the air by hand, there to fly about on quiet electric drive looking at things from on high with its daylight and infrared cameras.

So far, so ordinary - just another hand or bungee launched ground-troop spyplane. These are now increasingly common in better-funded armies, though sometimes getting clearance to fly them from military air-traffic controllers can be a headache. (Special forces formations like SOCOM have been said to ignore the usual military niceties, however.)

The special sauce this time comes with the "AE" bit, which actually means that the waterproof drone can land without problems on the sea, rivers etc as well as land. This could give the more web-footed subcultures of SOCOM - for instance the US Navy SEALs, who like a bit of boat, frogman or minisub work - an aerial recce capability useable from the water.

The initial SOCOM deal is for just 20 Puma AEs and $6m, according to Flight International. However, if the US ghost-troopers like their new wet or dry drone, a series of one-year options could take the deal to full value. ®

* Nothing naughty. Apparently you have to eat snakes during jungle survival training.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.