UK Royal Navy expands its fleet of Puma unmanned aircraft system

According to information published by Royal Navy on November 17, 2021, the RN has expanded its fleet of remotely-piloted drones – the far-seeing eyes of navy warships – with new training, personnel, and 12 aircraft.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Puma Unmanned Aircraft System (Picture source: Royal Navy)

The sailors at 700X Naval Air Squadron recently took delivery of their latest Puma air systems and can now immediately deploy flights as required for defence.

The most recent deployment for the squadron, which is based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall, was on the offshore patrol vessel, HMS Mersey.

With a range beyond 10 miles and an endurance of more than two hours, the Puma can vastly increase the ability of a ship to gather intelligence, for instance on the identity of shipping.

Flying up to 45 miles per hour, the drones combine a high-tech control system with their array of sensors, including a times-fifty optical zoom, to live-stream video back to the ship.

700X Naval Air Squadron conducts its own training programme to prepare personnel for the Puma flights. The squadron also teaches military personnel from across defence in the use of quadcopters. It also researches and evaluates a wide range of remotely-piloted systems as the sector continues to increase.

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