US-origin RQ-20 Puma UAV hunts Russia’s S-300 air defense systems

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have integrated the American RQ-20 Puma light unmanned aerial vehicle into their arsenal. According to reports from Ukraine, the RQ-20 Puma is aiding Ukrainian forces in targeting and destroying Russian military equipment in particularly challenging battlefield areas. 

AeroVironment's reconnaissance UASs reveal new autonomy options
Photo credit: AeroVironment

ArmiyaInform interviewed drone operators from the 148th Separate Artillery Brigade of the Airborne Assault Forces, who rely on this UAV to locate enemy weaponry. 

The operators highlighted the drone’s exceptional camera—boasting high-quality glass, precise targeting, stabilization, image clarity, and zoom. “What sets our ‘bird’ apart is the camera’s reliability. It maintains its focus, with the drone aligning its path with the camera’s view. Once the target is locked, the drone circles like a predatory eagle, keeping the target in sight,” shared Ivan, one of the operators. He also mentioned their direct collaboration with the drone’s developers, who tailor the software to their needs—a relationship that proves essential when tested on the battlefield.

AeroVironment's reconnaissance UASs reveal new autonomy options
Photo credit: AeroVironment

Puma hunts S-300

The pilot of the UAV Puma, Dmytro, shared that their team quickly became proficient with this drone. In the U.S., the training course typically lasts six months, followed by an additional six months of practice. However, the Ukrainian military, using the training materials, managed to master it within just one month. 

Using the RQ-20 Puma drone, the Ukrainian military has successfully “captured” various Russian weapons, even from deep within enemy territory at distances exceeding 45 km. These include the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, the TOS-type heavy flamethrower system, and artillery systems like the Msta-S, Hyacinth-S, and D-30. Additionally, they’ve identified ammunition depots and enemy personnel. 

It’s worth noting that the RQ-20 Puma, a lightweight UAV developed by the American company AeroVironment, is designed for reconnaissance and surveillance. It is currently in service with more than 20 armies globally. AeroVironment offers several variants of this capable drone. 

According to BulgarianMilitary.com, the U.S. government decided at the end of April to provide Ukraine with military assistance valued at a total of $6 billion, covering weapons systems and ammunition. The RQ-20 Puma was included in this package, and its deployment in Ukraine confirms the Pentagon’s assurance that some military equipment has indeed reached the front lines.

Puma 3AE and Puma LE

The Puma 3 AE and Puma LE are part of the versatile Puma series, designed for both land and sea operations. They bring impressive intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance [ISR] capabilities to the table. The Puma 3 AE is a lightweight, hand-launched drone that thrives in harsh weather conditions. With its electro-optical and infrared camera, it delivers real-time video and imagery, ideal for missions any time of day or night. This drone can fly up to 2.5 hours within a 20-kilometer range. 

AeroVironment's reconnaissance UASs reveal new autonomy options
Photo credit: AeroVironment

On the other hand, the Puma LE is a more advanced, larger version. It offers a remarkable flight endurance of up to 5.5 hours and covers a 60-kilometer range—three times that of the Puma 3 AE. The Puma LE includes an auxiliary payload bay, allowing it to carry extra equipment for more complex tasks. 

Both drones emphasize portability and ease of use, featuring quick assembly and hand-launch capabilities. However, the Puma LE’s larger size and enhanced features make it better suited for extended missions or those needing additional equipment. Despite these differences, both the Puma 3 AE and Puma LE deliver crucial ISR capabilities, offering the flexibility and adaptability needed for various operational scenarios. 

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