Authored By Dan Alex (Updated: 3/20/2016):
The Raven can fulfill various aerial duties for both military and civilian markets but is best known for its military uses where it has been used to visually acquire targets of interest, gather area intelligence, or reconnoiter a location. To date, some 13,000 Ravens have been produced and are currently seeing extensive use in the hands of the US SOCOM (Special Forces), the United States Army and the United States Air Force as well as others in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The small nature of the UAV has proven useful at the brigade, company and small unit levels by delivering real-time battlefield information. The Raven first flew in 2001 and was formally introduced in 2003. Serial production began in 2006 with each unit costing American tax payers $35,000. The entire Raven complex - aircraft and the applicable control station - runs upwards of $250,000.
Design of the Raven UAV is conventional as aircraft go though key qualities of the system are its compact dimensions and hand-launched operation. The Raven takes to the air by a member simply launching the aircraft into the air, nose-first. The major working components of the airframe are contained in a rectangular fuselage capped by a curved nose cone assembly housing the all-important camera suite. At the nose of the fuselage is a dual-forward, side-looking CCD EO camera system with electronic pan-tilt-zoom functionality and full stabilization as well as an Infrared night-vision camera with forward-looking and side-looking capability. A tailboom extends from the lower rear of the Raven fuselage and sports a single vertical tail fin with a single-piece horizontal tailplane. The main wing component of the Raven is noticeably canted upwards outboard of the fuselage. A simple two-bladed propeller is identified at the top rear of the fuselage and is used to propel the small UAV through the air (in a "pusher" arrangement). Power is supplied by a single Aveox 27/26/7-AV electric motor which provides the aircraft with a top speed of 56 kilometers per hour and mission endurance is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. The vehicle measures a running length of 55 inches and sports a wingspan of 4.5 feet with a 4.2lb operating weight. These factors allow it to be carried in a standard rucksack.