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
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.