Leonardo has successfully completed initial flight testing of its re-engined Falco EVO remotely piloted air system.
Leonardo has successfully completed a series of test flights of its Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS) in Bulgaria. The purpose of the flight campaign was to validate a package of upgrades that extends the endurance and operational range of the platform for overland and maritime missions.
Upgrades include a Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) satellite data link and a new propulsion system based on a heavy-fuel engine. As well as extending the flight envelope of the Falco EVO, the new engine was also shown to generate more electricity on-board the platform, enabling the use of more power-intensive ISR sensors required for complex missions.
Further trials are now planned that will see the Falco EVO flying with Leonardo’s new Gabbiano TS Ultra-Light (UL) surveillance radar (launched at the 2017 Paris Air Show) combined with a high-definition infrared electro-optical system, Automatic Identification System, and a comms relay suite.
The Falco EVO — the longest-endurance model from Leonardo’s Falco RPAS product line — is a surveillance and intelligence-gathering platform designed for overland and maritime missions. It can fly for more than 20 hours with a payload of up to 100 kg.
The Falco EVO has already been delivered to an unidentified launch customer in the Middle East, while the original Falco RPAS has been chosen by five customers. Leonardo says that the Falco EVO is currently engaged in a selection process “for a prestigious international client”.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, is using the Falco EVO in Portugal to monitor the North Atlantic Ocean as part of trials being performed with the European Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA).
Leonardo has identified leadership in RPAS, including unmanned rotorcraft, as one of the key pillars of technology under the company’s 2018-2022 Industrial Plan.