February 11, 2009 AeroVironment, Inc. will produce 50 new Raven RQ-11B unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) equipped with enhanced communications following the announcement of a USD$16.8 Million order from the U.S. Army on January 22. The company's new Digital Data Link (DDL) replaces the original four-channel analog set-up, increasing communication channels by a factor of four and allowing more of the unmanned craft to be flown in one area simultaneously.

“This Digital Data Link enhances the capabilities of our Raven® system by increasing the number of communication channels by a factor of four, enabling our customers to use more Raven® systems where they need them,” said John Grabowsky, executive vice president and general manager of AV’s UAS segment. “Our DDL also provides enhanced communications security, and establishes the foundation for a new, highly capable and portable communications network over the battlefield. This marks the transition of an important research and development program into production.”

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The DDL was designed to match the weight, volume and power parameters of the 4.2 pound Raven, and AV is working on a version for the smallest UAS in its stable, the 15 ounce Wasp.

The hand-launched, man-packable Raven is capable of capturing real-time video imagery both day and night for surveillance and target acquisition.

The $16,758,776 order includes DDL retrofit kits for 206 existing Raven systems.

Via: AeroVironment.

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