AeroVironment [AVAV] this week said that the Italian defense ministry has issued a Military Aircraft Type-Classification Certificate for the Raven B unmanned aircraft system (UAS), allowing Italian military personnel to fly Raven in Italy’s national airspace.

“Receiving this certification not only validates the Raven’s battle-proven capability and reliability, but also represents an important step toward the operation of our small UAS in the national airspace of Italy, as well as in other NATO and European nations,” Ike Bayraktar, the company’s vice president of international initiatives, said.

“There are a number of important non-military applications such as border patrol and asset monitoring that our small UAS can perform, and we now look forward to performing these missions with the Italian government’s approval,” he added.

According to AeroVironment, Italian MoD sources indicated that this decision highlights two key advantages to the Raven B System: its high reliability, coupled with its semiautonomous behavior, which permits flights over highly populated areas without limitation; as well as its light weight and simple operation.

“As a result, the Raven B System will greatly increase the protection of Italian land forces in operations requiring reconnaissance at short range,” the company said.

This is the first such certificate issued in Italy in the Micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle category.

AeroVironment anticipates that other NATO countries will emulate the process employed by the company and the Italian Ministry of Defense to pursue similar Raven B certification within their respective countries.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration has chartered an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to provide recommendations as to how to safely integrate small UAS into the National Airspace System.

Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of tactical units.

U.S. and allied armed forces use Ravens extensively for missions such as base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning and force protection, the company said.

In addition to Raven, the company’s small UASs include Puma AE and Wasp, which are also hand-launched and controlled by AeroVironment’s hand-held ground control station.

The company’s UAS logistics operation supports systems deployed worldwide to ensure a consistently high level of operational readiness. It has delivered more than 11,000 small unmanned aircraft to international purchasers of Raven including Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and Spain.