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U.S. Southern Command warfighters needed small hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for a variety of reconnaissance and intelligence missions. They found their solution in a small system by Aerovironment, the Raven, considered the most widely used unmanned aircraft system in the world today.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force Acquisition Management and Integration Center at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., announced a $13 million contract to AeroVironment for Raven RQ-11B small unmanned aircraft systems. The contract includes UAVs, spares kits, ancillary equipment, and recurring training.

The RQ-11B Raven small hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for military applications requiring low-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance.

It can be operated manually or programmed for autonomous operation, using the system’s advanced avionics and GPS navigation to provide aerial observation, day or night, at line-of-sight ranges to 10 kilometers, according to militaryaerospace.com.

The Raven is available with an optional stabilized gimbaled payload, and delivers real-time color or infrared imagery to the ground control and remote viewing stations.

Work will be finished by September 2028.

The U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean nations.