U.S. Marine Corps awards AeroVironment $6.2M for Puma 3s

Departments - Up and Soaring

Vantis opens statewide UAS mission, network operations center; FlightOps signs agreement with DroneUp; First UAV flight operates in German military airspace

August 3, 2022

Photo credit: AeroVironment

AeroVironment Inc. received a firm-fixed-price contract $6.2 million from the U.S. Marine Corps for an unspecified number of Puma 3 AE small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) and spares.

The Puma 3 AE has a wingspan of 9.2ft (2.8m), weighs 15 lb (6.8kg), and can operate up to 37.2 miles (60km) with AeroVironment’s Long-Range Tracking Antenna (LRTA) Operators can swap payloads quickly, selecting between daytime and enhanced night vision sensors. Puma 3 AE is launchable by hand, bungee, rail, or vehicle, and is recoverable by deep-stall landing.

AeroVironment’s sUAS comprise most unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) inventory, and its international customer base numbers more than 50 allied governments, including Ukraine.

Vantis opens statewide UAS mission, network operations center

MNOC opening.
Photo credit: Vantis

Vantis opened its mission and network operations center (MNOC) at GrandSky Business and Aviation Park in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The MNOC serves as the command center for coordinating beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flights statewide.

“From this location, we have the technology to monitor and control the remote infrastructure, enabling the entire operation,” says Trevor Woods, executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), which administers Vantis.

Present at the event were members from Vantis, Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), Thales, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the UAS industry, and the North Dakota state leaders who authorized MNOC’s creation.

Vantis selected Thales as system integrator and long-term partner.

FlightOps signs agreement with DroneUp

Multi-drone operating system (OS) provider FlightOps Ltd. obtained a commercial agreement with drone flight services provider DroneUp.

FlightOps’ robotic software lets drones communicate to the cloud-based operation center through 5G networks, allowing automated fleet operation in shared airspace. Automated mission planning creates flight paths for business or residential deliveries.

The technology enables last-mile drone deliveries, promising greater scale and reduced cost. Following successful trials of home deliveries, Walmart announced plans in May 2022 to expand its DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end of the year, with the potential to reach four million American households across six states.

First UAV flight operates in German military airspace

Photo credit: Primoco UAV

Czech Republic-based Primoco UAV demonstrated the first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) while regular air traffic proceeded in military airspace. German-based Plath GmbH & Co. KG’s onboard multi-sensor technologies and airborne radio and transponder provided safe air traffic management (ATM). Three flights were performed, showing the UAV can be integrated into the modern German Armed Forces and can perform missions in full compliance with civil and military aviation standards.

The UAV Primoco One 150 has a take-off weight of 150kg, a payload of 30kg, and non-stop air operation of more than 15 hours at speeds up to150km/h, giving a range up to 2,000km.