3D Robotics

$300,000 for a Raven?

3689383728?profile=originalThe latest US purchase of Raven UAVs was announced:

"AeroVironment, Inc. (AV) (NASDAQ:AVAV) announced today that it received an order valued at $46,226,984 under an existing contract with the U.S. Army. The order comprises 123 new digital Raven small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and initial spares packages as well as 186 digital retrofit kits for the U.S. Marine Corps. The order also includes 339 digital retrofit kits for the U.S. Army."

Assuming that those "digital retrofits" are just switching out the video transmitters to encrypt the signal, which is not a big deal, this sounds like ~$300,000 per plane, which is about the same price as the similarly-sized Wasp


I know that a Raven clone, APM and some decent video equipment is not quite milspec, but given that it costs about 1/1,000th as much and does more or less the same thing, why aren't the military considering cheaper alternatives?


(Yes, I'm aware the real Raven is much more robust, the onboard optics are much better, the Raven kits include ground stations and all that other stuff. But still: are they one thousand times better?)

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  • 3D Robotics
    I apologize for what appears to be the military post, but it was really to make an economic point about amateur vs pro UAVs. I very much do not want this site to get into military UAV coverage.
  • Krzysztof - No one even implied that "TOTAL" cost (i.e - money that goes to the contructor) includes training, assuring wharehouses full of spare parts, covering for lack of adaquate equipment from the army side and so on...

    Armies are used to "confidentiality" and everything that smells bad goes directly under this umbrella, so if they are buying UAS's for 30K each and the rest gets spent on buying big screen TVs for some big shot's office, the army can say its part of the "TOTAL" cost of the system, this how it works everywhere (especially from where I come, Israel, where the army is Holy and untouchable).

  • Perhaps we need a Millitary Forum...to keep millitary blog posts to a minimum?
  • The Raven is millitary, but very similar to what alot of people here are working on. Similar airframe, vaguely similar utility. Interesting cost comparison and lesson on you get what you pay for...it is millitary though
  • There are multiple airplanes in each system, four I believe. The $35,000 for each airplane sounds about right, the rest is for GCS, training, spares, etc...
  • T3

    " it says that the raven costs 35.000$ but the total system costs 250.000$ ... what is in the rest of the """TOTAL""" system??? are they speaking about the equipment that the soldier has on itself?  what is included in theother 215.000$ deal?????"

    -keeping warehouses full of spare parts at 24h notice for 10 eyars or going CH11 if the prices of maintenance rises?

    -teaching 1000 soldiers to use it when only 617 of them are mentally ready and there are 8 capable trainers?

    -ironing our commnications bugs that will pop up when connecting using Israeli satellite dish with German optical link somewhere in Afghan?

    -setting up equipment for training centre?

    -hardware simulator. THE REAL simulator, not matlab script plus arduino core. with protocols that doesn't choke up when a letter is missing here or there.

    -retrofitting those 186 packages and finding our that 55% of them are damaged beyond modification, but still operable under obsolete terms

    -keeping all operations secret, all discussions put into database (for quality tracing) but all heavily encrypted (leave no traces for outside world)

    -collect money for bribing Assange should the worst happen


    Raven works because it fulfills customer expectation and sometimes the solution survives in operational reality.

    As we all know infinity is about 1e38 (32 bit flopoint ends somewhere there).

    Because Raven works and the mentioned styrofoam don't, the diffference of quality can be calculated and equals to mentioned 1e38.

    Dividing 1e4 (price) by 1e38 (usefulness), Raven is cheap stuff.

    Why the requirements are so ridiculously complex? The idea of dominating using military half of a world is expensive, but when it works - highly profitable.


  • I know what I'd buy if I had half that money (Evektor SportStar Max):



  • in this link:http://www.army-technology.com/projects/rq11-raven/ it says that the raven costs 35.000$ but the total system costs 250.000$....... what is in the rest of the """TOTAL""" system??? are they speaking about the equipment that the soldier has on itself?  what is included in the other 215.000$ deal?????

    By the way, are we writting about military things?  :-)

  • I know where they can get a cheap GCS :)
  • You should see the waste on the *big ticket items*. Nothing but the best for our boys!
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