Fort Irwin, California. (October 6, 2023): In this photo by Army Major Jason Elmore, a soldier physically launches the RQ-11B Raven, a small, unmanned aircraft system that has become the military’s solution to intelligence gathering. Deployed at the Company level, AeroVironment’s Raven system proved its worth in U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Raven provides real-time direct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance of targets using advanced cameras to relay data to one of two ground control stations. This “packable” aircraft is launched by hand and gives soldiers day or night aerial intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition. This remote-controlled system consists of three aircraft using two ground control stations and is operated by a specially trained two-person crew. The Raven can be controlled manually or can autonomously navigate a preplanned route flying up to six miles at 450 feet and at speeds up to sixty mph.
The aircraft includes gimbaled electronics for a 360-degree view and uses electro-optical or infrared cameras depending on the situation. Of exceptional value to soldiers is the Raven’s ability to land itself by auto-piloting to a pre-defined landing point and can be commanded to immediately return to its launch point by pressing a single button.
The Raven has become so popular with foreign customers that they are currently operated by Australia, Estonia, Italy, Denmark, Spain and Czech Republic. Today, the Raven is the most widely adopted UAS system in the world.