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The US Marine Corps selected the 'Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle' (BATMAV) system for its 'Tier I' micro UAV requirement. Sofar the corps was using two mini UAVs at the battalion level – the BAI DragonEyes and the Raven from AeroVironment. Both were fielded at the Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) level. The smaller Wasp III will be deployed at the platoon level. “The small size and light weight of Wasp make it ideally suited for deployment directly to platoons, where flexibility, portability and reliability are critically important." said U.S. Marine Corps Major James Roudebush, Tier I UAV Program Manager, PMA-263. (More...)

Storekeeper 1st Class Michael Lake, attached to Mobile Insure Undersea Warfare 109, prepares to launch an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) during Field Exercise (FEX). The UAV system is designed to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data, battle damage assessment, and communications relay. FEX is aimed at improving the overall combat readiness and preparing forces for deployment in support of Joint Logistics Over the Shore, 2008. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daisy Abonza "We have been evaluating Wasp for some time, and believe that it offers a unique new capability to support our Marines’ missions around the world." The Marine Corps will procure the BATMAV systems through the Air Force BATMAV contract, which was awarded to AV in December 2006 and provides a means for other U.S. armed services to procure these systems. The Air Force Special Operations Command plans to use these systems in support of ground combat contriller teams.

This week AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) announced it was awarded a $19.3 million order for the supply of the miniature drones. Each of the Corps' BATMAV systems will consists of two Wasp III micro air vehicles (MAV), a hand-held ground control unit, a data-link assembly and a battery charger. Wasp III has a wingspan of 29 inches and weight of one pound. Its payload consists of a static infrared camera, and a pair of color video cameras, one looking forward and the other – sideways. All cameras transmit streaming video directly to the hand-held ground controller for display on an integrated monitor.

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