AeroVironment gets $23.9M contract addition

AP News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2009 6:41 PM

A defense contractor that makes a small unmanned drone for the Army and Marines said it has gotten a $23.9 million order for upgrades that will include encryption.

The drones have come under scrutiny in the past week because they send unencrypted video signals that could be intercepted by insurgents equipped with cheap software and a laptop computer.

AeroVironment Inc., which makes a hand-launched drone called the Raven, said on Monday that it got a $23.9 million order for kits that will upgrade the Ravens from analog to digital signals.

The upgrade will also free up more of the radio frequency used by the little planes, making it possible for troops to fly more of them in the same area. It also allows the Ravens to fly out of the sight of the operator.

The company said it began delivering the digital Raven systems in late October, and that it is increasing production to meet demand from the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

AeroVironment shares rose 67 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $29.07 on Monday.