AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma


The AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma is a small, battery powered, American, hand-launched unmanned aircraft system produced by AeroVironment based in California. Its primary mission is surveillance and intelligence gathering using an electro-optical and infrared camera.

RQ-20 Puma
U S Marine Corps RQ-20 Puma 4-M-DE476-005 JPEG.jpg
AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma
Role Remote controlled UAS
Manufacturer AeroVironment
First flight 2007
Introduction 2008[1]
Primary users United States Army
United States Marine Corps
United States Air Force
Number built + 1,000[2]

The Puma can safely accomplish observation missions in hazardous Arctic locations.


Each military RQ-20A system has three air vehicles and two ground stations.[3] The Puma AE can operate under extreme weather conditions including temperatures ranging from −20 to 120 °F (−29 to 49 °C), wind speeds up to 25 knots (29 mph; 46 km/h), and an inch of rain per hour.[4]


In 2008 it was selected for the United States Special Operations Command. In March 2012 the United States Army ordered the Puma All Environment (AE) and designated it the RQ-20A.[3] In April, the United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force placed a similar order for the RQ-20A.[5][6]

On 26 July 2013, the Puma became one of the first unmanned aerial vehicles to be granted certification by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in U.S. airspace for commercial purposes.

A U.S. soldier launches a RQ-20 by hand

On 8 June 2014, the Puma AE made its first flight for BP in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, which was the first authorized unmanned commercial flight over land.[7]

The UK tested ISR packages compatible with the Puma AE on board the M80 Stiletto trials ship in November 2014.[8]

On 20 January 2016, RQ-20 units were captured by the Turkish army from the PKK. It is suspected that the Kurdish militants were able to acquire these drones from their Syrian affiliates.[9]

In August 2016, AeroVironment announced the U.S. Navy had tested and deployed the RQ-20B Puma aboard a Flight I Guided Missile Destroyer. The test included the company's Precision Recovery System to autonomously recover the aircraft aboard a ship. The Puma is utilized on Navy patrol craft in the Persian Gulf.[1]

In 2018 commercial certification followed military certification and the Congressionally-mandated opening of airspace over much of Alaska to small UAVs.[10] Three individual Pumas were certified, with strict requirements: only one aircraft of the type was allowed to be airborne at any one time; they were not certified for clouds or icing conditions; takeoff and landing was not allowed during certain gust and wind conditions. The certification did not mention line-of-sight control.[11]In December 2021, the United States allocated $5 million for a Puma drone for the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq.[12]

On April 1, 2022, the United States announced a $300 million military aid package to Ukraine that included Puma drones.[13]


RQ-20A Puma
Military designation for the Puma All Environment variant.
Enhanced Puma
Upgrade of the RQ-20A Puma AE with more powerful propulsion system and new batteries that increase endurance by 75 percent to 3.5 hours, auxiliary payload bay to integrate payloads while keeping the video camera, precision navigation system with secondary GPS, and a redesigned durable fuselage with reinforced construction and improved aerodynamics. Available in early 2014.[14]
Solar Puma
Puma AE powered by ultra-thin solar cells that increases endurance to 9 hours.[15] Production version planned for early 2014.[16]
Block 2 Puma AE, includes a more powerful and lighter propulsion system, lighter and stronger airframe, long endurance battery, precision inertial navigation system an improved user interface, and the new, all environment Mantis i45 gimbal sensor suite.[1]
Puma AE upgraded with a long-range tracking antenna (LRTA) that extends range to 60 kilometers (37.28 miles). Available Spring 2018.[17]
Puma LE (Long Endurance)
Puma with expanded battery-operated endurance to 5.5 hours, revealed in May 2019.[18]
Puma 3 AE
Designed for maritime use, it is capable of landing on water or ground. Includes the Mantis i45 EO/IR sensor suite and extended range. Released in 2021.[19]


Map with RQ-20 operators in blue
  Czech Republic
  • Estonian Army - Unknown number of RQ20B Puma AE II UAVs purchased in September 2018. Delivery to be expected by March 2019.[28]
  • German Navy - 3 RQ-20B Puma AE II systems in service.[30]
  New Zealand
  United Kingdom
  United States


Data from [44] Puma AE data sheet

General characteristics

  • Length: 4 ft 7 in (1.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 9 ft 2 in (2.8 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 13 lb (5.9 kg)


  • Maximum speed: 52 mph (83 km/h, 45 kn)
  • Minimum control speed: 23 mph (37 km/h, 20 kn)
  • Range: 9.3 mi (15 km, 8.1 nmi)
  • Endurance: 2 hours

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c US Navy deploying new RQ-20B AeroVironment Puma AE aboard Guided Missile Destroyer -, 11 August 2016
  2. ^ "The AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma is a small-class surveillance UAV utilized in large numbers by the US military". Military Factory. 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Army Places $20.4 Million Order for AeroVironment RQ-20A Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems". Archived from the original on 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
  4. ^ Puma unmanned craft tested on USS Gonzalez Archived 2015-09-25 at the Wayback Machine -, 23 September 2015
  5. ^ "U.S. Marine Corps First to Procure Four Different AeroVironment Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems with $5.5 Million RQ-20A Puma Order". Archived from the original on 2015-06-24. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
  6. ^ AeroVironment Scores Another Small UAS Success Archived 2013-05-22 at the Wayback Machine -, 27 April 2012
  7. ^ Drone at Prudhoe Bay makes first FAA-authorized unmanned commercial flight over land -, 10 June 2014
  8. ^ Scott, Richard (26 October 2014). "Dstl plans unmanned ISR payload demonstration from Stiletto". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  9. ^ "PKK sığınağında İHA bulundu" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  10. ^ AeroVironment's Puma becomes first UAV to earn FAA commercial certification Archived 2018-03-21 at the Wayback Machine, FlightGlobal, 26 July 2013
  11. ^ FAA certifies two UAVs for commercial operations Archived 2013-08-04 at the Wayback Machine, FlightGlobal, 26 July 2013
  12. ^ Mylroie (28 December 2021). "Biden signs defense bill: funds Kurdish forces fighting ISIS". Kurdistan24.
  13. ^ Romero, Dennis (April 1, 2022). "U.S. commits $300 million in military hardware, weapons to Ukraine". NBC News. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  14. ^ AeroVironment Introduces Block Upgrade to Puma AE Unmanned Aircraft System, Including 75 Percent Increase in Flight Duration Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine -, 21 October 2013
  15. ^ Allen McDuffee, "Launch This New 9-Hour Solar-Powered Drone from Your Shoulder" Archived 2014-03-16 at the Wayback Machine, Wired, 13 August 2013
  16. ^ AeroVironment Solar-Powered Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Achieves Continuous Flight for More Than Nine Hours Archived 2013-08-21 at the Wayback Machine -, 16 August 2013
  17. ^ AeroVironment's PUMA AE UAS receives new antenna Archived 2019-02-13 at the Wayback Machine -, 15 September 2017
  18. ^ "SOFIC 2019: AeroVironment "soft laucnhes" Puma LE". Mönch Publishing Group. 23 May 2019. Archived from the original on 23 May 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  19. ^ "AeroVironment Receives Puma 3 AE and Raven Unmanned Aircraft System Orders Totaling $15.9 Million from United States Air Force". 22 July 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Albania Puma System". GovTribe. 31 July 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-09-03.
  21. ^ "Η Αλβανία δρομολογεί την αγορά αμερικανικών drones". Πτήση & Διάστημα (in Greek). 2020-08-04. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  22. ^ "La Belgique recourt aux mini-drones Puma pour l'Irak" (in French). Archived from the original on 2019-04-03. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  23. ^ a b c Eshel, Tamir (2012-06-12). "Sweden, Denmark Opt for PUMA AE, Wasp Mini-UAVs". Defense Update. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  24. ^ a b c Kunertova, Dominika (2019). Military Drones in Europe (PDF). Denmark: University of Southern Denmark. p. 19.
  25. ^ "Danish Armed Forces Select AeroVironment's Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems". AeroVironment, Inc. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  26. ^ "Contracts: Press Operations: Release No: CR-050-18". Archived from the original on 2018-03-18. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  27. ^ "AeroVironment Awarded $44.5 Million Puma AE UAS Contract from a Major Country in the Middle East". Archived from the original on 2018-03-18. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  28. ^ "Estonia and Portugal procure AeroVironment small unmanned aircraft systems". The Defence Post. 15 September 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-09-15. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  29. ^ Gain, Nathan (2021-02-03). "French Naval Special Forces Order Additional PUMA UAVs from AeroVironment". Naval News. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  30. ^ "Puma AE für die Marine - FLUG REVUE". Archived from the original on 2020-09-22.
  31. ^ seeks to buy 4 drone "Kosovo security forces seeks to buy 4 drone in 2021". KOS. 2021-06-29. Retrieved 2021-05-29. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  32. ^ "Latvia to receive three unmanned aircraft systems with US support".
  33. ^ "Achter de schermen". Royal Marechaussee. 7 September 2020. Archived from the original on 27 June 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  34. ^ "The Netherlands Ministry of Defence Awards AeroVironment Contract for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Upgrades Valued at $10.3 Million". Business Wire. 31 October 2016. Archived from the original on 2021-06-27. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Defence Force seeks more drones for fleet". RNZ. 2021-05-23. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  36. ^ "AeroVironment awarded contract for drone data links for Norway". Space Daily. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  37. ^ MaxDefense Philippines
  38. ^ AirForces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. January 2020. p. 8.
  39. ^ "700X reach milestones in Puma flights and drone training". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  40. ^ "Navy's drone experts 700X NAS ready to deploy on warships". Retrieved 2020-08-17.
  41. ^ Puma numbers Archived 2013-02-21 at the Wayback Machine -, February 19, 2013
  42. ^ [1] Archived 2013-06-25 at the Wayback Machine - NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries
  43. ^ [2] - Mezha.Media
  44. ^ "Puma AE data sheet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-05-03.

External linksEdit

  •   Media related to AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma at Wikimedia Commons