RQ-20 Puma
AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma
Role Remote controlled UAS
Manufacturer AeroVironment
First flight 2007
Introduction 2008[1]
Primary users United States Army
United States Marine Corps
United States Air Force
Albanian Air Force
Number built + 1,000[2]

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


Each military RQ-20A system has three air vehicles and two ground stations.[3] The Puma AE can operate at temperatures ranging from −20 to 120 °F (−29 to 49 °C), wind speeds up to 25 knots (29 mph; 46 km/h), and an inch of rain per hour (25.4mm/h).[4] It had a reported top speed of 45 miles per hour, a range of 10+ miles and an endurance time of more than 2 hours. The drone carries an array of sensors, including a times-fifty optical zoom, to live-stream video back to its ground station.[5]


In 2008 it was selected for the United States Special Operations Command. In March 2012 the United States Army ordered the Puma All Environment (AE) and designated it the RQ-20A.[3] In April, the United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force placed a similar order for the RQ-20A.[6][7]

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.

A U.S. soldier launches a RQ-20 by hand

On 8 June 2014, the Puma AE made its first flight for BP in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, which was the first authorized unmanned commercial flight over land.[8]

The UK tested ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) packages compatible with the Puma AE on board the M80 Stiletto trials ship in November 2014.[9] As of 2021, 12 systems were deployed with 700 Naval Air Squadron permitting individual teams to be embarked on Royal Navy vessels as might be required.[10][5]

On 20 January 2016, RQ-20 units were captured by the Turkish army from the PKK. It is suspected that the Kurdish militants were able to acquire these drones from their Syrian affiliates.[11]

In August 2016, AeroVironment announced the U.S. Navy had tested and deployed the RQ-20B Puma aboard a Flight I Guided Missile Destroyer. The test included the company's Precision Recovery System to autonomously recover the aircraft aboard a ship. The Puma was utilized on Navy patrol craft in the Persian Gulf.[1]

In 2018 commercial certification followed military certification and the Congressionally-mandated opening of airspace over much of Alaska to small UAVs.[12] Three individual Pumas were certified, with strict requirements: only one aircraft of the type was allowed to be airborne at any one time; they were not certified for clouds or icing conditions; takeoff and landing was not allowed during certain gust and wind conditions. The certification did not mention line-of-sight control.[13] In December 2021, the United States allocated $5 million for a Puma drone for the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq.[14]

On 1 April 2022, the United States announced a $300 million military aid package to Ukraine that included Puma drones, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[15] Oryx reports that by 19 September 2023, Russian forces had shot down at least 10 of these drones.[16]


RQ-20A Puma
Military designation for the Puma All Environment variant.
Enhanced Puma
Upgrade of the RQ-20A Puma AE with more powerful propulsion system and new batteries that increase endurance by 75 percent to 3.5 hours, auxiliary payload bay to integrate payloads while keeping the video camera, precision navigation system with secondary GPS, and a redesigned durable fuselage with reinforced construction and improved aerodynamics. Available in early 2014.[17]
Solar Puma
Puma AE powered by thin solar cells that increases endurance to 9 hours.[18] Production version was planned for early 2014.[19]
Block 2 Puma AE, includes a more powerful and lighter propulsion system, lighter and stronger airframe, long endurance battery, precision inertial navigation system an improved user interface, and the new, all environment Mantis i45 gimbal sensor suite.[1]
Puma AE upgraded with a long-range tracking antenna (LRTA) that extends range to 60 kilometers (37.28 miles). Available Spring 2018.[20]
Puma LE (Long Endurance)
Puma with expanded battery-operated endurance to 5.5 hours, revealed in May 2019.[21]
Puma 3 AE
Designed for maritime use, it is capable of landing on water or ground. Includes the Mantis i45 EO/IR sensor suite and extended range. Released in 2021.[22]


Map with RQ-20 operators in blue
 Costa Rica.
 Czech Republic
 New Zealand
 United Kingdom
 United States




Data from [52] Puma AE data sheet

General characteristics


See also


  1. ^ a b c US Navy deploying new RQ-20B AeroVironment Puma AE aboard Guided Missile Destroyer - Navyrecognition.com, 11 August 2016
  2. ^ "The AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma is a small-class surveillance UAV utilized in large numbers by the US military". Military Factory. 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Army Places $20.4 Million Order for AeroVironment RQ-20A Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems". Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  4. ^ Puma unmanned craft tested on USS Gonzalez Archived 2015-09-25 at the Wayback Machine - Upi.com, 23 September 2015
  5. ^ a b "Royal Navy Expands Its Fleet Of Puma Remotely-Piloted Drones". Naval News. 17 November 2021. Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  6. ^ "U.S. Marine Corps First to Procure Four Different AeroVironment Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems with $5.5 Million RQ-20A Puma Order". Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  7. ^ AeroVironment Scores Another Small UAS Success Archived 2013-05-22 at the Wayback Machine - Ainonline.com, 27 April 2012
  8. ^ Drone at Prudhoe Bay makes first FAA-authorized unmanned commercial flight over land - adn.com, 10 June 2014
  9. ^ Scott, Richard (26 October 2014). "Dstl plans unmanned ISR payload demonstration from Stiletto". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Royal Navy warship assists West African nations with maritime security". Royal Navy. 4 August 2023. Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  11. ^ "PKK sığınağında İHA bulundu" (in Turkish). 21 January 2016. Archived from the original on 25 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  12. ^ AeroVironment's Puma becomes first UAV to earn FAA commercial certification Archived 2018-03-21 at the Wayback Machine, FlightGlobal, 26 July 2013
  13. ^ FAA certifies two UAVs for commercial operations Archived 2013-08-04 at the Wayback Machine, FlightGlobal, 26 July 2013
  14. ^ Mylroie (28 December 2021). "Biden signs defense bill: funds Kurdish forces fighting ISIS". Kurdistan24.
  15. ^ Romero, Dennis (1 April 2022). "U.S. commits $300 million in military hardware, weapons to Ukraine". NBC News. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Attack on Europe: Documenting Ukrainian Equipment Losses During the Russian Invasion of Ukraine".
  17. ^ AeroVironment Introduces Block Upgrade to Puma AE Unmanned Aircraft System, Including 75 Percent Increase in Flight Duration Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine - sUASNews.com, 21 October 2013
  18. ^ Allen McDuffee, "Launch This New 9-Hour Solar-Powered Drone from Your Shoulder" Archived 2014-03-16 at the Wayback Machine, Wired, 13 August 2013
  19. ^ AeroVironment Solar-Powered Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Achieves Continuous Flight for More Than Nine Hours Archived 2013-08-21 at the Wayback Machine - sUASNews.com, 16 August 2013
  20. ^ AeroVironment's PUMA AE UAS receives new antenna Archived 2019-02-13 at the Wayback Machine - Armyrecognition.com, 15 September 2017
  21. ^ "SOFIC 2019: AeroVironment "soft laucnhes" Puma LE". Mönch Publishing Group. 23 May 2019. Archived from the original on 23 May 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
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  23. ^ "Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Albania Puma System". GovTribe. 31 July 2020. Archived from the original on 3 September 2021.
  24. ^ "Η Αλβανία δρομολογεί την αγορά αμερικανικών drones". Πτήση & Διάστημα (in Greek). 4 August 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
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  26. ^ "RQ-20 Puma UAV: aerial reconnaissance of Armed Forces of Ukraine uses American drones". Militarnyi. Militarnyi. 30 May 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2022.
  27. ^ "EE.UU. anuncia donación de $13,7 millones a Costa Rica para combatir narco y vigilar fronteras". 15 February 2023. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  28. ^ a b c Eshel, Tamir (12 June 2012). "Sweden, Denmark Opt for PUMA AE, Wasp Mini-UAVs". Defense Update. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  29. ^ a b c Kunertova, Dominika (2019). Military Drones in Europe (PDF). Denmark: University of Southern Denmark. p. 19.
  30. ^ "Danish Armed Forces Select AeroVironment's Puma AE Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems". AeroVironment, Inc. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  31. ^ "Contracts: Press Operations: Release No: CR-050-18". Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  32. ^ "AeroVironment Awarded $44.5 Million Puma AE UAS Contract from a Major Country in the Middle East". Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Estonia and Portugal procure AeroVironment small unmanned aircraft systems". The Defence Post. 15 September 2018. Archived from the original on 15 September 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  34. ^ Gain, Nathan (3 February 2021). "French Naval Special Forces Order Additional PUMA UAVs from AeroVironment". Naval News. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  35. ^ "Puma AE für die Marine - FLUG REVUE". www.flugrevue.de. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Που βρίσκονται τα ελληνικά RQ-20 Puma;". flight (in Greek). 31 March 2018. Πιθανολογείται ότι αποδέκτες των RQ-20B είναι κάποιες από τις μονάδες ειδικών επιχειρήσεων
  37. ^ "How did four UAS turn into forty?". kossev.info. 26 January 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  38. ^ "Latvia to receive three unmanned aircraft systems with US support".
  39. ^ "Achter de schermen". Royal Marechaussee. 7 September 2020. Archived from the original on 5 November 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  40. ^ "The Netherlands Ministry of Defence Awards AeroVironment Contract for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Upgrades Valued at $10.3 Million". Business Wire. 31 October 2016. Archived from the original on 27 June 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  41. ^ "Defence Force seeks more drones for fleet". RNZ. 23 May 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  42. ^ "AeroVironment awarded contract for drone data links for Norway". Space Daily. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  43. ^ "Özel Kuvvetler Puma Kullanmaya Başladı | Bağımsız Havacılar". www.bagimsizhavacilar.com. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  44. ^ Şafak, Yeni. "Bayraktar'a Puma desteği | Ankara Haberleri". Yeni Şafak. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
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  46. ^ AirForces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. January 2020. p. 8.
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  49. ^ Puma numbers Archived 2013-02-21 at the Wayback Machine - Strategypage.com, February 19, 2013
  50. ^ [1] Archived 2013-06-25 at the Wayback Machine - NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries
  51. ^ [2] - Mezha.Media
  52. ^ "Puma AE data sheet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.