Procurement: Danes Obtain Raven UAV


September 15, 2007: The innovative, and very useful, Raven mini-UAV has got another nation using it. Denmark is buying a dozen systems (each containing three aircraft, control unit, spares and maintenance gear) for $200,000 each. Denmark is buying the more expensive "B" version. The RQ-11 Raven UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) is not as well-known as other UAVs in service, like the Predator, but it is arguably one of the most important in service. The Raven weighs less than five pounds, and costs $25,000 each (for the "A" version). Developed by the Army, it recently was adopted by the Marine Corps as well.

The U.S. Army currently has some nearly 2,000 RQ-11 Ravens, with over a thousand on order. The Raven is usually used by an infantry company commander. This means that each infantry battalion could have as many as nine such UAVs available. This is a significant reconnaissance force for infantry units that, a decade ago, were dependent on separate army aviation battalions, or the air force, for air reconnaissance. Now front line infantry commanders have their own air force, and this is revolutionary.

The Raven is very easy to launch. One can simply throw them or one can use a hand-held bungee cord. The battery-powered UAVs are also very quiet. This makes them practically invulnerable at night. They can fly as high as 1,000 feet, and stay in the air for up to an hour per flight. The operator uses a controller very similar to those used with video games, making it easy to train new operators. The small size (about 3.5 feet by 4.25 feet) of the Raven makes them a very difficult target to hit with small arms fire, at any range.




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