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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

Kratos has demonstrated the ability of its Airwolf unmanned aircraft to air-launch an AeroVironment Switchblade loitering munition, also commonly referred to as a "suicide drone." This test has opened up a significant new "opportunity space" for how Airwolf, which is derived from its MQM-178 Firejet aerial target, could be employed operationally. The company has only given out relatively limited details about Airwolf, which is the smallest and cheapest of its publicly disclosed tactical designs, in the past and just released its first picture of one of these drones earlier this month. You can read more about what we had already been able to glean about this drone here.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • United States Pentagon Force Protection Agency receives Telerob, an AeroVironment Company, telemax EVO HYBRID unmanned ground vehicle system order, supported by training, spares and accessories packages
  • Telerob’s advanced unmanned ground vehicle solutions safely and effectively perform a variety of dangerous missions, including explosive ordnance disposal, hazardous materials handling and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat assessment 

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 15, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Telerob, successfully delivered the United States Pentagon Force Protection Agency’s (PFPA) telemax™ EVO HYBRID unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) order in July 2021. Designed to be operated by PFPA explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and hazardous materials handling (HAZMAT) technicians, the UGV was purchased for deployment by its Hazardous Devices Branch.


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Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have been used in military settings for over a century. In 1915, French engineers developed the “Torpille Terrestre” (Land Torpedo) — a UGV loaded with explosives meant to breach enemy lines. In the 1930s, the Soviets began using UGVs based on the T-18 and T-26 tanks and were dubbed “Teletanks.” The Teletanks were controlled remotely from another tank about a mile away and were deployed in the Winter War against Finland in 1940. The UGV had a humble beginning as little more than a single-use detonation device, but today these vehicles feature state-of-the-art capabilities that work to protect and preserve lives.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

For a long time, excitement and potential drove the commercial drone industry in a way that could literally be calculated. Countless reports talked up the billions of dollars that commercial drone technology represented, but whether it was the $82 billion estimated by AUVSI or the $127 billion that PwC predicted, the hype associated with drones was mostly irrelevant to the actual users that wanted to adopt the technology to create value. Plenty have done just that in very defined ways over the past few years, but just as the drone industry was in the midst of fully transitioning from hype to reality, COVID-19 changed the paradigm.

As literal social distancing tools, the pandemic highlighted how drones could be utilized in ways that were never envisioned but nonetheless created real value. However, those new opportunities have been complicated by misconceptions that predate the pandemic. Additionally, the regulatory challenges with legally taking a drone into the sky that users have to sort through are just as relevant now as they were in the midst of that hype cycle. What has this evolution of the commercial drone industry meant to the people that are working to define the value of the technology in the present and future?

That very topic is a focus of numerous conference sessions at the upcoming Commercial UAV Expo, where professionals from across the space will come together for what is now recognized as the world's largest show for professionals integrating commercial drone technology. In preparation of the event, we connected with numerous experts across the space to capture their insights around how expectations associated with the technology will impact the market in the short and long term.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

“This flight was specifically designed to hit some high-value science targets, to demonstrate, basically, aerial imaging of science sites.” Ben Pipenberg, senior aeromechanical engineer at AeroVironment, was explaining. “That was kind of the first time we’ve really done that in a targeted way, so this was a much more complicated flight.”

Pipenberg was extolling Mars Helicopter Ingenuity’s 10th foray since it first lifted off from the Red Planet’s surface back in April. Flight 10 was something of a watershed; it saw the little vehicle Pipenberg and his team had birthed in concert with NASA/JPL and other leading-edge firms pass the mile marker on distance flown while ranging further and further afield from its mid-February arrival on Mars in the belly of the Perseverance land rover.

Pippen laughed after hearing Ingenuity’s various destinations described as “a cruise ship on Mars.” Flight 10 came on July 24th, after a hoped-for initial set of five technology trips had been extended to operational demonstrations and journeys to other “airfields.” The 10th trip initiated what might be called an investigatory phase, setting an altitude record (40 feet) and visiting 10 waypoints en route to a rock formation called “Raised Ridges.” The color photos and 3D images it collected will inform Perseverance’s up-close exploration of the outcrop, in part to seek evidence for a watery past on Mars. That’s already begun: an 11th flight, on August 5th, positioned Ingenuity as a scout to support Perseverance’s work.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • Enables third-party payload manufacturers, as well as U.S. DoD and international partners, to develop and integrate payloads onto RQ-20B Puma
  • Utilizes the Modular Payload Standard initiated by USSOCOM to create a modular architectural standard for payloads on unmanned aircraft systems Groups 1 through 3

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 4, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced the introduction of its standardized modular payload interface kits for RQ-20B Puma™ tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • United States Air Force to equip its Security Forces with Puma 3 AE systems; support existing fleet of Raven systems with spares packages
  • AeroVironment’s family of tactical UAS allows customers to use the same ground control station and software for multiple UAS for added simplicity and efficiency

ARLINGTON, Va., July 22, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced receipt of two firm-fixed-price orders totaling $15,940,378 from the United States Air Force. The orders, received on April 19, 2021 and May 6, 2021, encompass the procurement of Puma™ 3 AE unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and spares packages, as well as Raven® UAS spares packages. The Puma 3 AE systems and spares were delivered on April 30, 2021. Delivery of the Raven spares is anticipated by November 2021.

“The combat-proven Puma 3 AE and Raven are versatile, rugged and reliable tactical unmanned aircraft systems designed to provide the United States Air Force Security Forces with the enhanced situational awareness and mission effectiveness they require when safeguarding bases,” said Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small UAS.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • First award for satellite communications-enabled beyond line of sight (BLOS) on competitive Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MEUAS) IV program
  • AeroVironment receives task order to provide ISR services at additional customer location
  • AeroVironment JUMP 20 is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), fixed-wing unmanned aircraft that AeroVironment uses to provide advanced multi-sensor intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services

ARLINGTON, Va., July 13, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced it was awarded a competitive task order valued at approximately $22 million on May 21, 2021 from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for ISR services using JUMP® 20 medium unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at an undisclosed customer location. The ISR services include the first SATCOM-enabled unmanned aircraft system for beyond line of sight operations as part of the existing Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) MEUAS IV contract. The task order specifies a 12-month period of performance and multiple follow-on option years for ISR services.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

It has been a week of heightened apprehension on the Mars Helicopter team as we prepared a major flight challenge for Ingenuity. We uplinked instructions for the flight, which occurred Monday, July 5 at 2:03 am PT, and waited nervously for results to arrive from Mars later that morning. The mood in the ground control room was jubilant when we learned that Ingenuity was alive and well after completing a journey spanning 2,051 feet (625 meters) of challenging terrain.

Flight 9 was not like the flights that came before it. It broke our records for flight duration and cruise speed, and it nearly quadrupled the distance flown between two airfields. But what really set the flight apart was the terrain that Ingenuity had to negotiate during its 2 minutes and 46 seconds in the air – an area called “Séítah” that would be difficult to traverse with a ground vehicle like the Perseverance rover. This flight was also explicitly designed to have science value by providing the first close view of major science targets that the rover will not reach for quite some time.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

The Séítah region on Mars, filled with rocks and sand dunes, was too treacherous for NASA’s Perseverance rover to drive across. So Ingenuity, the tiny helicopter accompanying the rover, flew over the area on Monday and snapped some photos of a key spot on the other side. In less than three minutes, Ingenuity spared Perseverance the months it would have had to spend driving to take its own photos.

The quick Monday morning jump across Séítah was Ingenuity’s ninth flight on Mars so far, but it marked the first time the chopper lent a helping hand to Perseverance in its hunt for ancient signs of life at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater. The four-pound helicopter arrived on Mars on February 14th, attached to Perseverance’s underside, and became the first object to take powered flight on another world on April 19th. Its initial set of flights served as increasingly complex practice tests to demonstrate how off-world rotorcraft can buzz around places that wheeled rovers can’t go.

But on Monday, NASA engineers pushed Ingenuity’s limits further than ever. In 166 seconds, Ingenuity flew roughly 11mph for almost a half-mile, or 2,050 feet — a far greater distance than its most recent flight in June, which tallied 525 feet. The copter buzzed around different corners of Séítah and snapped photos of its borders, where junctures between different rock formations — called contacts, in geology lingo — make for some of the most scientifically intriguing targets in Perseverance’s hunt for fossilized microbial life. 

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