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. Primary mission is surveillance and intelligence gathering using an electro-optical and infrared video camera.

Previously selected for the United States Special Operations Command in 2008, in March 2012 the United States Army ordered the Puma All Environment (AE) and designated it the RQ-20A.  In April, the United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force placed a similar order for the RQ-20A. Each military RQ-20A system has three air vehicles and two ground stations.

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. AeroVironment expects one to be deployed to Alaska to support oil spill response crews and count wildlife. The Puma can safely accomplish observation missions in hazardous Arctic locations, which is safer, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than using manned aircraft. Commercial certification was the result of previous military certification and the Congressionally-mandated opening of airspace over much of Alaska to small UAVs. The FAA also certified the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, also planned to be deployed to Alaska. Only three individual Pumas were certified with strict requirements: only one aircraft of the type is allowed airborne at any one time, they cannot fly through clouds or icing conditions, and they cannot take off or land during certain gust and wind conditions. The certifications did not mention line-of-sight control.

Role Remote controlled UAS
Manufacturer AeroVironment
First flight 2007
Primary users United States Army
United States Marine Corps
Number built 1000+


RQ-20A Puma
Military designation for the Puma All Environment variant.
Solar Puma
Puma AE powered by ultra-thin solar cells that increases endurance to 9 hours. Production version planned for early 2014.


 United States
  • United States Special Operations Command
  • United States Army - 325 systems, one per infantry company and 18 per brigade
  • United States Marine Corps
  • United States Navy
  • United States Air Force
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Data from 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; 45 kn (83 km/h)
  • Minimum control speed: 23 mph; 20 kn (37 km/h)
  • Range: 9 mi; 8 nmi (15 km)
  • Endurance: 2 hours


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