Ship launch of AeroVironment Puma drone.

Ship launch of AeroVironment Puma drone.

AeroVironment Inc. has conducted a maritime demonstration of the automated sensor-to-shooter function for its Puma and Switchblade drones from a U.S. Navy ship, the company announced Monday.

The system uses the company’s existing drones with a new sensor to quick perceive and respond to threats on land or sea. AeroVironment is headquartered in Monrovia but designs and builds its drones in Simi Valley.

In a typical maritime mission, a Puma surveillance drone with a high-resolution day/night camera identifies a target and passes its location to a Switchblade drone prior to its launch. After the Switchblade is airborne, Puma continuously transmits the target location information. When the target is in view of Switchblade’s optical sensors, the Switchblade mission commander confirms the target and the Switchblade operator shoots a missile.

“This new combination of our Puma unmanned aircraft system with our Switchblade loitering missile system gives commanders unprecedented ability to identify threats at long ranges, limit collateral damage and wave off targets subsequently deemed neutral or friendly,” said Rick Pedigo, vice president of AeroVironment’s Tactical Missile Systems business.

In the demonstration conducted from the Navy’s Coastal Riverine Craft, Puma identified fast-attack craft moving toward a host platform and transmitted their coordinates to Switchblade. Once launched, Switchblade automatically flew to the fast-moving target and the operator “defeated” the threat with a dud missile.