Friday, September 22, 2023

AeroVironment’s Puma VTOL kit enables rooftop launch and landing

American defense contractor AeroVironment has introduced the Puma VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) kit, designed for plug-and-play integration into Puma 2 AE and Puma 3 AE small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS). The optional Puma VTOL kit expands the operational capabilities of the combat-proven Puma system in complex terrain, as neither runway nor large open space is required for the launch and recovery of the VTOL-equipped Puma, allowing operators to launch anywhere, anytime.

The new system leverages the company’s Crysalis ground control solution. The added VTOL capability now allows a single Puma operator to execute missions and streamline operations through features like one-button launch and recovery.

“The modern battlefield offers varying types of complex terrain features, both natural and manmade, that can pose challenges to small unit operations and their use of unmanned aircraft. Our new Puma VTOL kit provides the operator with a wider range of launch and land capabilities, enhancing the unit’s mission while further safeguarding its personnel during these periods of transitional flight,” said Shane Hastings, AeroVironment’s vice president and product line general manager for small UAS.

“The VTOL kit converts the Puma AE into a highly precise and agile ISR asset where a single operator can effortlessly launch the aircraft from a small space and attain mission-critical information of enemy forces in a timely manner and land on a desired rooftop or other small, targeted areas.”

Integration of the Puma VTOL kit requires minimal one-time modifications to the aircraft’s airframe by qualified personnel. Once modified, the plug-and-play Puma VTOL kit can be easily added or removed in the field within a couple of minutes, allowing operators to quickly transition between a fixed-wing and VTOL platform to suit varying mission needs with a single aircraft.

The kit has enough juice to be used for up to 1.5 hours and can receive and respond to commands sent from as far as 37 miles (60 km) away. The system is available as an add-on option for new Puma 3 AE system orders and as a retrofit kit for already fielded Puma 2 AE and Puma 3 AE aircraft. This way, both fielded and new aircraft can take advantage of this VTOL capability.