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RQ-11 Raven UAV
The RQ-11 Raven is a small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV) operated by the U.S. military and other nations. Powered by an electric motor, the Raven has a range of 6.2 miles at maximum altitude of 1,000 feet. Flying at speeds of 28 to 60 mph, the RQ-11 Raven provides over-the-horizon views in military operations in urban terrain (MOUT). The Raven can fly completely autonomous missions or be controlled from a ground station. It is designed to be rapidly deployed in its role of reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA). The Raven has been adopted by the U.S. Marines, USSOCOM, and the Air Force for the ongoing FPASS Program.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven Development
AeroVironment developed an initial version of the Raven from the FQM-151 Pointer UAV in 1999. The Army bought four of as a part of its "Pathfinder" advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) program. AeroVironment refined the design into its current form, initially naming it the Flashlight. Its first flight took place in October 2001.
The early Raven UAVs were hand-built, entering into low-rate initial production (LRIP) in May 2003. But problems during launch and poor flight stability resulted in AeroVironment further refining the UAV's design. US Special Operations Command ordered 179 of these improved Raven systems with three UAVs each, shipping them to Afghanistan for evaluation. In 2004, these UAVs were given the designation RQ-11A, where "R" stands for reconnaissance, and "Q" for a UAV.
The RQ-11 resembles a hobbyist's remote control aircraft. Powered by an Aveox electric motor, the Raven uses lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged using a charger that plugs into a HMMWV.
The Raven is small enough to be transported in three cases that fit into a rucksack. Launch is achieved with a simple over-the-arm throw. The Raven lands autonomously, first flying to a pre-defined landing site and then descending in "Autoland" mode, a near vertical drop.
The Raven can be controlled from a ground station by an operator, or given a mission profile ahead of time and flown autonomously using GPS waypoint navigation. A single button on the control system returns the Raven to its launch point immediately after the button is pressed.
For its sensor package, the Raven can carry an electro-optical camera to send data through a nose camera or a side camera, a nose-mounted infrared camera, or a side-mounted infrared camera. It can provide day or night aerial surveillance, and its IR capability is reportedly better than that found in the Apache helicopter.
A total of more than 13,000 RQ-11 Raven UAVs have been built as of 2011. The Raven comes in two variants. The RQ-11B, introduced in 2006, is an enhanced version of the RQ-11A, with improved mobility, a larger wingspan of 4.5 ft., and weighing 4.2 lbs. The Raven B is the most advanced Small UAV (SUAV) used by the U.S. military. The Raven won the US Army's Small UAV (SUAV) program in 2005, and went into full-rate production (FPF) in 2006.
RQ-11 Raven Operational History
The RQ-11 Raven has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan for finding IEDs and in other forms of force protection, as well as security during elections and even evaluation of atmospheric conditions. The Raven has also been adopted by British forces in Iraq. Other militaries using the Raven UAV system include the Royal Danish Army, the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, and those of Australia, Italy, and Spain.
Characteristics of the RQ-11 Raven
Recommended Books about the RQ-11 Raven and UAVs
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