Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2018-03-22

Leonardo takes the lead in unmanned technologies

By: Sakha Pramod
With a wide range of technologies in the UAS segment, Leonardo, based in Italy, is positioning itself as the major provider of unmanned services and platforms the world over, particularly the Middle East, according to Lorenzo Mariani, the company’s Chief Commercial Officer.
 
 “Unmanned technologies represent a key growth area for Leonardo, which has achieved a leadership position in remotely piloted systems through significant investment in platforms, sensors and managed services,” Mariani told the Nation Shield in an interview on the sidelines of UMEX. 
 
“In fact, Leonardo is among the few companies in the world to possess a wide range of technologies in the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) sector and the only European entity that can provide unmanned solutions for ISTAR missions (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) that integrate platforms, radar and electro-optic sensors and mission and ground control systems,” he said. In this framework, Leonardo, one of the major foreign firms that attended UMEX, Abu Dhabi, is also cooperating with other European OEM in the frame of large programmes. 
 
In particular, Leonardo is participating in all major European demonstration and research programmes related to several unmanned technologies, such as the nEUROn UCAV demonstrator and the MIDCAS project and is involved in the most recent programme for a European drone, the MALE2025, together with the other European big players of the aeronautical industry, Airbus and Dassault. Leonardo is also one of the main players of the new UCAV Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
 
At UMEX, Leonardo presented its remotely piloted helicopter AWHERO, a state-of-the-art RUAS (Rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial System), which brings together Leonardo’s experience in helicopters and system integration. Developed for land and naval operations, AWHERO is a cost-effective solution for tasks such as maritime and border surveillance, national security, critical infrastructure protection, pipeline and powerline monitoring. At UMEX, the AWHERO was presented with an on-board Gabbiano TS Ultra Light surveillance radar. 
Mariani says: “The configuration exhibited at UMEX is the same that will be used in 2019 in the maritime surveillance capability demonstrations that are part of OCEAN2020. This is the most important project related to the first European Defence Fund initiative to boost Europe’s defence capabilities, where Leonardo will lead a team of 42 partners from 15 European countries, including the Ministries of Defence of Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania, with additional support from the Ministries of Defence of Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, Estonia and the Netherlands.” 
 
Leonardo’s RUAS platforms have demonstrated their capabilities extensively under contracts from the Italian and UK MoD and during international exercises.
Leonardo sees the UAE and other countries in the Middle East as important customers for its products, including unmanned platforms and services: “The demand for unmanned services in the Gulf region is getting stronger and, although the UAE is itself developing its industrial capabilities in the Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS) domain, we think we can still provide valuable assistance for security and civil operations, meeting a range of requirements from single aircraft to entire systems, as well as managed services.”
“Leonardo and Piaggio Aerospace are continuing to work closely together on the P.1HH programme, in order to fulfil current contractual obligations with the Emirati client, ensuring that the product is successful in the UAE and in the wider international market. 
 
Currently, a new prototype has resumed flight operations and is being tested to validate the P.1HH key performances. The development programme will continue as planned, with the release of an Initial Operation Capability in 2018 and a Full Operation Capability in 2019. Leonardo has also actively collaborated to carry out preliminary analysis for the P.2HH project relating to the platform’s feasibility study and time/cost definition.”
 
At the most recent Dubai Airshow, Leonardo announced the completion of the first delivery of its Falco EVO RPAS to its launch customer in the Middle East, building on the success of the earlier mission-proven Falco RPAS. “Leonardo has provided surveillance and imagery services via the operation of its own fleet of Falco RPAS on behalf of customers for a number of years, including the United Nations for its MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),” says Mariani
 
Under Leonardo’s surveillance contracts, as well as designing, manufacturing and maintaining the remotely-piloted aircraft, the company’s pilots and payload operators actually conduct the missions, providing and where required interpreting surveillance data for the customer. Falco is also the only European RPAS in its class to have been exported and operated by an international customer.
 

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