According to information published by the British Navy on June 24, 2021, the Puma drone was used by the British Navy to support the HMS Albion amphibious transport dock and the Royal Marines of 45 Commando as part of the deployment of the Littoral Response Group (North ) to the north. and the Baltic Sea, including when participating in large-scale Baltops exercises alongside military personnel from 17 other nations.
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The 700X Naval Air Squadron deploys the Puma drone from the flight deck of the HMS Albion amphibious transport dock during operations in the Baltic Sea.(Image source British Navy)
The RQ-20 Puma is a small American electrically powered unmanned aircraft system produced by the American company AeroVironment based in California. The Puma AE can operate in extreme weather conditions including temperatures ranging from -20 to 120 ° F (-29 to 49 ° C), wind speeds of up to 25 knots (29 mph; 46 km / h) and an inch of rain per hour.
The Puma is just over 1.35m long with a wingspan of 2.75m. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 500 feet and has a maximum speed of 83 km / h and a range of 15 km. The flight autonomy of the UAS is two hours.
The Puma payload includes an electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR) camera and an IR illuminator. It can be used to conduct reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions at sea or on land. The drone can monitor an area larger than the size of Greater Manchester during its flights, returning real-time images to help Sailors and Royal Marines make precise tactical decisions.
The Fixed Wing Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) is piloted by the 700X Naval Air Squadron – normally based in Culdrose, Cornwall – and can be launched from the vast Albion flight deck or from the open decks of landing craft.
The Puma carried out reconnaissance of potential landing zones, providing vital information to the Royal Marines as they landed on the coast at night on training missions.
The drone stayed close to the commandos as they moved inland, tracking enemy movements and returning information to aid battlefield decisions using the on-board infrared camera. He was also on hand to respond to reports of enemy positions and moved to search the area, giving the commandos an added advantage when moving.
The Puma’s ability to support warships at sea is developing rapidly, with drones also being used to conduct maritime patrols, allowing ships to better understand their surroundings.
HMS Albion is a Royal British Navy amphibious transport dock, the first of the two-ship Albion class. The aft flight deck has two landing points for Chinook-sized aircraft, although there is no hangar or aircraft storage facility. Below the flight deck are the dock and vehicle deck. The latter has the capacity to hold thirty-one large trucks and thirty-six smaller vehicles or six Challenger 2 tanks and thirty armored personnel carriers. The dock can hold four Landing Craft Utility MK10s, each large enough to carry vehicles up to the size of the main battle tank, which is then launched by flooding the dock area.