The World’s Largest Unmanned Aircraft

Introducing the Ravn X, a super slick drone that weighs over 25 tonnes.

By Rachel Cormack 07/12/2020

There are drones, and then there’s the Ravn X. The epic behemoth, which was unveiled Thursday, is now the world’s largest unmanned aircraft (UAS) by mass, tipping the scales at nearly 25.4 tonnes.

Ravn X is the handiwork of the startup Aevum. The Alabama-based outfit showcased its pride and joy at the Cecil SpacePort launch facility in Jacksonville, Florida, and, well, it was hard to miss.

The 24.3-metres aircraft has a wingspan of 18.2-metres  and stands 5.4-metres tall. It weighs a staggering 25,000kg, which is roughly the same as one Gulfstream G550 or 10 Range Rovers. Despite these gargantuan proportions, the Ravn X is unequivocally sleek and sexy. In fact, it looks less like a drone and more like a futuristic fighter jet.

But the next-gen aircraft promises more than size and style. It was designed to launch satellites in space. Basically, once the Ravn X reaches the desired location and altitude, it drops a rocket midair that shoots small satellites (a payload of about 100kg) into low-Earth orbit. Aevum claims the Ravn X will be able to deliver these satellites to space as fast as every 180 minutes, 24/7, with no risk of human life. After the mission is complete, the aircraft lands and parks itself in a hangar.

Ravn X can be reused, too. While most small vessels that venture into space seldom return whole (if at all), Ravn X is 70 per cent reusable out of the gate and will be up to 95 per cent in the near future, according to Aevum.

The CEO of Aevum Jay Skylus with the Ravn X

The CEO of Aevum Jay Skylus with the Ravn X. Aevum

What’s more, Aevum says Ravn X flies just like a typical plane and can launch from any one-mile runway without needing a launchpad. This means there’s no need for costly infrastructure. It’s also fitted with what Aevuem calls “autonomous launch architecture.” This system is designed to optimize every launch, taking into account weather conditions, air traffic, destination, payload and other logistics. The drone, of course, is also fully autonomous and flies itself without a pilot.

“US leadership has identified the critical need for extremely fast access to low Earth orbit,” Jay Skylus, founder and CEO of Aevum, said in a statement. “Through our autonomous technologies, Aevum will shorten the lead time of launches from years to months, and when our customers demand it, minutes. This is necessary to improve lives on Earth. This is necessary to save lives.”

The CEO of Aevum Jay Skylus

The CEO of Aevum Jay Skylus. Aevum

Aevum has already been awarded more than $1 billion in government contracts. Its first mission is with the US Space Force. This approx. $6.5 million ASLON-45 small satellite launch mission is set for late 2021, with another 20 missions to follow in the next nine years. Looks like we’ll be seeing plenty more Ravns in the sky.


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Why You Need A Zeppelin-Shaped Business Jet

Longer range and better fuel efficiency are just some of the perks.

By Michael Verdon


Inside The New Dassault Falcon 6X

This new luxury business plane uses fighter jet technology.

By Darren Shannon


Futuristic Business Class Seats Aim To Bring You More Privacy

The Air Lair allows for climate control, privacy and heightened sanitation for each passenger.

By Michael Verdon


NASA Is Working To Deliver Flying Taxis

The space agency is now looking back to Earth, working with eVTOL manufacturers on urban aircraft.

By Michael Verdon


The Pegasus eVTOL Offers Business Jet Performance

This futuristic aircraft can fly like a business jet and take off like a VTOL.

By J. George Gorant


Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected