USS Gon­za­lez tests Puma at sea


The guided-mis­sile de­stroyer USS Gon­za­lez (DDG 66) con­ducted test­ing of an un­manned air­craft sys­tem dur­ing a Com­pos­ite Unit Train­ing Ex­er­cise. RQ-20A Puma (Block II) is the sec­ond it­er­a­tion of the all-en­vi­ron­ment un­manned air­craft mod­els and is used in sit­u­a­tions with a greater need for ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, such as mar­itime in­ter- dic­tion and counter-piracy oper­a­tions.

The all-en­vi­ron­ment term comes from its abil­ity to with­stand tem­per­a­tures rang­ing from –30 to 50 de­grees Cel­sius, an inch of rain per hour, and wind speeds of 25 knots. Also it is fully op­er­a­tional day or night. Its smart bat­ter­ies and wa­ter­proof body al­low for many types of mis­sions all over the world.

“When I first checked aboard USS Gon­za­lez I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to get the op­por­tu­nity to run the Puma pro­ject, but af­ter work­ing with the equip­ment and peo­ple, I re­alised its ca­pa­bil­i­ties are in­no­va­tive and re­source­ful,” said En­sign N. Sanchez. “It aug­ments what we are al­ready ca­pa­ble of do­ing. It re­ally aligns with the Chief of Naval Op­er­a­tion’s man­date to ‘op­er­ate for­ward and be ready’.”

A two-per­son team con­trols Puma lo­cally; it can also be re­motely con­trolled in­side the skin of the ship.

At the end of oper­a­tions it can land on the ship’s deck in a net or in the ocean with fol­low-on retrieval by rigid-hull in­flat­able boat. In case of an in­abil­ity to re­cover, no in­for­ma­tion can be taken as all in­for­ma­tion is trans­mit­ted to and kept within the re­ceiv­ing ship.

Puma weighs 13.5 pounds with a wing­span of just over nine feet and has an op­er­at­ing al­ti­tude of 500 feet or higher in or­der to ma­noeu­vre above ter­rain.

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