Leonardo is promoting its exportable airborne technologies to regional customers at the ongoing EDEX 2018.
One notable new offering in the company’s product range is its Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) products, which includes the fixed wing ‘Falco’ family that has proven popular in the region and recently saw its new package of upgrades validated in live flight trials. Another produce being showcased is the rotary wing AWHERO for land and naval applications.
“Our unmanned Falco family has attracted customers and continues to receive great attention in the Middle East and North Africa regions and we’re pleased to have already delivered a Falco EVO, the longest endurance model of the Falco family, to a customer in the region,” said Marco Buratti, Leonardo’s SVP International Marketing & Strategic Campaigns.
“The recent flight trials centred on the Falco EVO have allowed us to validate a package of upgrades including a Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) satellite data-link system and a new propulsion system based on a heavy-fuel engine. Together, these extend the endurance and operational range of the Falco EVO, making it even more effective for overland and maritime missions. Moreover, the new engine proved it could generate more electrical power on-board, granting access to more power-intensive payloads in future.”
More than 50 Falco-family platforms are currently operating internationally. Buratti says Leonardo has started to see new trends emerge in how customers are making use of unmanned platforms. “Some customers prefer the traditional model of owning and operating their own platforms” he said. “We are also seeing increasing demand for ‘managed service’ packages where we as a company own and operate Falco platforms and then provide surveillance information directly to the customer. This is the model we have been delivering for the United Nations. We’re expecting this model to be even more popular in future as we expand the service to civilian customers such as police and emergency responders.”
Leonardo has also developed a range of remotely-piloted systems and capabilities in the rotorcraft sector. The AWHERO is a state of the art 200kg class unmanned helicopter developed for land and naval operations. AWHERO is the perfect solution in terms of cost effectiveness for tasks such as maritime and border surveillance, homeland security, pipeline and powerline monitoring, monitoring the environment and critical infrastructure as well as supporting rescue efforts, disaster relief and damage assessment during natural disasters. AWHERO has a maximum gross weight of 205 kg and a useful load of 85 kg (fuel plus payload) with a maximum endurance in excess of 6 hours.
“The aircraft is designed to deliver high availability and low operating costs and features multiple redundancy of all the main critical systems for maximum reliability. It can also operate from ships alongside manned rotorcraft giving force commanders the greatest mission flexibility,” said Buratti.
With a multiple payload capacity, the AWHERO is able to meet a range of mission and customization requirements and is ready for maritime operations. Payload may include a radar (such as the Leonardo Gabbiano Ultra-Light), electro-optics, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), advanced communication systems among others. With a multiple payload capacity, the AWHERO can meet a range of missions.
The future for the Falco family and AWHERO looks bright, but Leonardo isn’t slowing the pace of progress. Upcoming flights will see the Falco EVO equipped with Leonardo’s Gabbiano TS Ultra-Light (UL) surveillance radar and other sensors including a high-definition InfraRed (IR) electro-optical system, Automatic Identification System and a communications relay suite.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure that the Falco continuously delivers mission success through the latest technology,” said Buratti. “Therefore, we’re constantly ensuring that the Falco family platforms are able to fly with the most advanced and most effective sensors and equipment. When we stay at the cutting edge of technology, our customers benefit.”