Leonardo has successfully concluded a series of test flights using its Falco EVO remotely piloted air system (RPAS) in Bulgaria.
Flight trials have been carried out to demonstrate the upgrades that have been added to help improve the endurance and operational range of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for both overland and maritime operations.
Manufactured by Leonardo-Finmeccanica, the upgraded Falco EVO RPAS includes a beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) satellite data-link system and a new propulsion system based on a heavy-fuel engine.
The new heavy-fuel engine helped extend the flight envelope of the autonomous system, in addition to generating more electricity on board the aircraft platform.
This provides access to more power-intensive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors required to address challenging missions.
Additional trials have been planned to conduct flight tests using Falco EVO aircraft fitted with Leonardo’s new Gabbiano TS Ultra-Light surveillance radar, together with a high-definition infrared (IR) electro-optical system, an automatic identification system, and a communications relay suite.
Being the longest-endurance variant from the Falco RPAS family, the Falco EVO UAV serves as a surveillance and intelligence-gathering platform that can travel for more than 20 hours while carrying a payload of up to 100kg.
The RPAS is an all-weather, persistent-surveillance unmanned system capable of conducting real-time, stand-off target detection, classification and identification in ground, littoral and maritime environments.
Currently, more than 50 Falco family RPAS are deployed on a wide range of operations around the world.