Military Factory logo

AeroVironment RQ-12A Wasp III

United States (2007)

Detailing the development and operational history of the AeroVironment RQ-12A Wasp III Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS).

 Entry last updated on 4/11/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  AeroVironment RQ-12A Wasp III  
Picture of AeroVironment RQ-12A Wasp III Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS)

Introduced in 2007, the compact and portable AeroEnvironment Wasp III has served American special forces operatives well.

Today's battlefield requirements push a massive - and growing - unmanned aircraft market. AeroVironment is a leader in design, development and production of Unmanned Air Systems (UASs) and their stable of competent aircraft added the "Wasp III" product in 2007. This miniature UAS was developed against a requirement by the United States Air Force special operations section. The project goal was to supply in-the-field operatives with a lightweight, portable, remote-controlled UAS unit for overhead scouting work and target designation. In this way the Wasp III has proved a success and its adoption has gone beyond the USAF - the governments of Australia (Army), France (Navy), Sweden (Air Force, Army, Navy), and Spain (Air Force) have all taken on the Wasp III into their various services.

The Wasp III system features a length of 1.25 feet and a wingspan of 2.4 feet. It weighs less than 1lb without its mission payload - which centers on stabilized cameras offering high-resolution, real-time video in both day and night operations. Full tilt, pan and zoom functionality is built into these units. The camera module is installed in the belly of the aircraft. Power for the aircraft is through a single electric motor powered by rechargeable batteries and this system drives a tw0-bladed propeller unit mounted to the nose. Maximum range is out to 5 kilometers with cruising speeds reaching 65 kmh.
Structurally, the Wasp III showcases a broad wingspan, slim nose section and single-finned tail unit. For transport, the Wasp III handily breaks down into major components and can fit in its travel bag. Set-up and take-down is relatively quick. Beyond its manual control scheme (operated through a basic hand-held controller), the aircraft can also be programmed and launched for autonomous service relying on GPS navigation.

The Wasp AE is an improved product form of the Wasp III series, introduced in mid-2012. Along with increased operational ranges and a built-in Infra-Red (IR) viewing capability, this mark brings about an amphibious capability that allows the unit to land on water surfaces for recovery. Because of this useful feature, various world navies have taken an interest in the variant.

The United Air Force and Marine Corps have both selected the Wasp III family for various over-battlefield roles. The U.S. military inventory designates the Wasp III as the "RQ-12A".
AeroVironment RQ-12A Wasp III Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 2007
Status: Active, In-Service
Type: Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS)
Manufacturer(s): AeroEnvironment, Incorporated - USA
Production: 550
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 0
Width: 2.36 ft (0.72 m)

Installed Power
1 x Electric motor with rechargeable ion battery pack driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 40 mph (65 kph; 35 kts)
Maximum Range: 3 mi (5 km; 3 nm)

None. Mission payload consists of day/night high-resolution camera equipment.

Operators List
Australia; France; Spain; Sweden; United States

Series Model Variants
• RQ-12A "Wasp III" - Base Series Designation