Royal Navy expands Puma drone fleet

The Royal Navy has expanded its fleet of remotely-piloted drones.

The Senior Service has received 12 new aircraft, as well as new training and personnel.

Sailors at 700X Naval Air Squadron recently took delivery of their latest Puma air systems and can now immediately deploy flights as required for defence.

The squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, most recently deployed for flight commander training on board Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Mersey.

Each Puma has a range of 10 miles and can fly for more than two hours.

"They may look simple, but the Puma is a rugged and sophisticated piece of kit," said Puma flight commander, Lieutenant Ashley Loftus.

"Yes, it’s fairly small, but that means we can deploy it from the stern of any ship with the minimum of effort.

Watch: Personnel test the Puma at Predannack Airfield in July last year.

"Last year we took part in exercises in the Mediterranean on HMS Albion while this year we’ve deployed with HMS Tamar and then in the Baltic back onboard Albion again.

"We’ve also taken part in exercises with the Royal Marines. We’ve operated the Puma from landing craft while working with the marines in Scotland. We’d fly ahead of the craft, during the middle of the night, using one of the system’s thermal cameras to provide real-time intelligence."

Flying up to 45 miles per hour, the drones combine a high-tech control system with an array of sensors, including a times-fifty optical zoom, to live-stream video back to the ship.

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