AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven

RQ-11 Raven
During the Iraq War, a U.S. Army soldier assembles an RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicle in Taji, Iraq.
Role Remote controlled UAV[1]
Manufacturer AeroVironment
First flight October 2001
Introduction May 2003
Status In active service
Primary users United States Army
United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, United States Special Forces, international land forces
Produced 2004–present
Number built 19,000+ airframes
Unit cost
$173,000 per system (includes 4 UAVs, 2 GCS and spare parts)[2]
Developed from FQM-151 Pointer

The AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven is a small hand-launched remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle (or SUAV)[3] developed for the United States military, but now adopted by the military forces of many other countries.

The RQ-11 Raven was originally introduced as the FQM-151 in 1999, but in 2002 developed into its current form,[4] resembling an enlarged FAI class F1C free flight model aircraft in general appearance. The craft is launched by hand and powered by a pusher configuration electric motor. The plane can fly up to 6.2 miles (10.0 km) at altitudes of appx 500 feet (150 m) above ground level (AGL), and over 15,000 feet (4,600 m) above mean sea level (MSL), at flying speeds of 28–60 mph (45–97 km/h).[5] The U.S. Army deploys the Raven at company-level.[6]

Design and development

The Raven RQ-11B UAV system is manufactured by AeroVironment. It was the winner of the US Army's SUAV program in 2005, and went into Full-Rate Production (FRP) in 2006. Shortly afterwards, it was also adopted by the US Marines, and the US Air Force for their ongoing FPASS Program. It has also been adopted by the military forces of many other countries (see below). More than 19,000 Raven airframes have been delivered to customers worldwide to date. A new Digital Data Link-enabled version of Raven now in production for US Forces and allies has improved endurance, among many other improvements.

The Raven can be either remotely controlled from the ground station or fly completely autonomous missions using GPS waypoint navigation. The UAV can be ordered to immediately return to its launch point simply by pressing a single command button.[1] Standard mission payloads include CCD color video cameras and an infrared night vision camera.

The RQ-11B Raven UAV weighs about 1.9 kg (4.2 lb), has a flight endurance of 60–90 minutes and an effective operational radius of approximately 10 km (6.2 miles).[7]

The RQ-11B Raven UAV is launched by hand, thrown into the air like a free flight model airplane. The Raven lands itself by auto-piloting to a pre-defined landing point and then performing a 45° slope (1 foot down for every 1 foot forward) controlled "Autoland" descent. The UAV can provide day or night aerial intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance.

In mid-2015, the U.S. Marine Corps tested Harris Corporation's Small Secure Data Link (SSDL), a radio device that fits onto a Raven's nose to provide beyond line-of-sight communications for Marines down to squad level. Acting as communications nodes for ground forces has become an important function for UAVs, but has been restricted to larger platforms like the RQ-4 Global Hawk or RQ-21 Blackjack. Being certified for 'Secret' classification and at just 25 cubic inches (410 cm3) (measuring 3 in × 5.3 in × 1.6 in) and weighing 18 oz (510 g), the Harris SSDL allows the small Raven UAV to extend communications for troops in the field.[8]

In August 2015, selected units began receiving upgrades to their Raven sensors. The Raven Gimbal is a rotating camera with a 360-degree gimbal, which replaces the fixed camera that required maneuvering the entire aircraft to look. The new camera can also be switched between day and night settings without landing and swapping sensors.[9]



A soldier prepares to launch the Raven in Iraq
The Raven is launched.

The Raven is used by the United States Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command. Additionally, foreign customers include Australia, Estonia, Italy, Denmark, Spain and Czech Republic. As of early 2012, over 19,000 airframes have already been shipped, making it the most widely adopted UAV system in the world today.[11]

The British forces in Iraq used Raven equipment.[12] The Royal Danish Army acquired 12 Raven systems in September 2007; three systems will be delivered to the Huntsmen Corps, while the remainder will be deployed with soldiers from the Artillery Training Center.[13] A 2010 documentary film, Armadillo, shows Danish forces deploying a Raven in operations around FOB Armadillo in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The drone also makes an appearance being used by the SEAL operators in the 2012 film Act of Valor.

The Netherlands MoD has acquired 72 operational RQ-11B systems with a total value of $23.74 million for use within Army reconnaissance units, its Marine Corps and its Special Forces (KCT).[14] At the turn of the year 2009 to 2010 the systems were deployed above the village Veen, as part of the Intensification of Civil-Military Cooperation.[15] In 2012 and 2013 the Raven was loaned by the Defense department to the police department of Almere to combat burglary.[16]

In April 2011, the U.S. announced that it would be supplying 85 Raven B systems to the Pakistan Army.[17]

In June 2011, the U.S. announced $145.4 million in proposed aid for anti-terror efforts in north and east Africa,[18] including four Raven systems to be used by forces from Uganda and Burundi as part of the ongoing African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.[19] The US has also announced its intent to supply an unspecified number of Ravens to the Ukrainian armed forces.[20]

Current operators

Map with military AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven operators in blue
 Czech Republic[24]
 Lebanon 12 systems[27][28][29][30]
 Macedonia unknown[31]
 Saudi Arabia
 United Kingdom
 United States 5,000[32]
 Ukraine 72[33][34]

Capture by Iran

Flight control module.

Iran has claimed it has captured two RQ-11, one "in Shahrivar 1390 (August 21 – September 19, 2011) and the other one in Aban (October 22 – November 20, 2012)".[36] It also indicated that "much of the data of these drones has been decoded", but did not indicate whether the drone has been duplicated, as has been done with the RQ-170 and the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle.[37][38]


See also

Related lists


  1. 1 2 "RQ-11 Raven". Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  2. "RQ-11B Raven". United States Air Force.
  3. Tomlinson, Cpl Ryan L (2008-05-14). "Gunfighter debuts Raven". IIMEF, Official Site US Marine Core, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  4. "RQ-11 Raven". Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  5. Mini Drones Win Soldier Praise at Army Experiment -, 6 March 2015
  6. "RQ-11 Raven datasheet" (PDF). AeroVironment. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
  7. Data link lets even small UAVs serve as secure comm nodes –, 1 July 2015
  8. Troopers receive new Raven UAS camera upgrade –, 21 August 2015
  9. Solar Raven –, November 17, 2012
  10. "Gallery: The Complete UAV Field Guide; Current: RQ-11B Raven (AeroVironment)". Popular Science. February 23, 2010. Archived from the original on 30 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  11. "US Raven "loan" to MoD". UAV News. October 3, 2006. Archived from the original on 14 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-30.
  12. Ravens, Mini-UAVs Winning Gold Afghanistan’s “Commando Olympics”
  13. "Netherlands Ministry of Defence: Raven Small UAS ready for use". September 1, 2009. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  14. "Vliegende nachtkijkers ingezet tijdens jaarwisseling". January 1, 2009. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  15. "AlmereSpionagevliegtuigje ingezet tegen inbraken". January 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  16. "US to Provide 85 Hand-Launched RQ-11 Raven UAVs to Pakistan". Pakistan Military Review. April 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  17. "US allocates US$145 million to fight terrorism in north, east Africa". defenceWeb. June 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  18. "New Bird of Prey Hunts Somali Terrorists: Raven Drones". Wired. June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  19. Baldor, Lolita C.; Pickler, Nedra (March 11, 2015). "US to Send Ukraine Drones, More Aid, but No Lethal Weapons". ABC News. Associated Press.
  21. "". 2014-05-13. Retrieved 2014-05-14. External link in |title= (help)
  22. Colombia; US donates ScanEagle UAV's to FAC –, March 19, 2013
  23. "Czech military to buy two MUAVs for Afghanistan". ČTK (Czech Press Agency, October 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  25. "Iraqi Army's UAVs give troops the big picture". Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  26. "Lebanon to receive US-built UAV's". defence.professionals (defpro). April 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  27. "Heavy U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon Arrives ahead of Elections". Naharnet Newsdesk. April 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  28. "Lebanon gets Raven mini UAV from U.S.". United Press International. March 23, 2009. Archived from the original on March 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
  29. US delivers military vehicles to Lebanese Army. Daily Star, March 24, 2009.
  30. Drones from Washington arrived in Macedonia
  31. Raven numbers –, February 19, 2013
  32. США передали украинским военным 72 беспилотника
  33. Украина в ближайшее время получит новые разведывательные беспилотные аппараты RQ-11B «Raven»
  34. Ansari, Usman (May 9, 2009). "Pakistan reported developing armed UAV". Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  35. FarsNews September 22, 2013
  36. - Iranian Copy Of The US UAV Scan Eagle
  37. Iran Claims To Have Captured Another US Drone – Business Insider

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