Leonardo has completed a series of successful test lights of its Falco EVO system to validate a package of upgrades designed to extend the endurance and operational range of the platform for overland and maritime missions. The tests, which took place at an undisclosed location in Bulgaria, evaluated a new beyond-line-of-sight satellite data link and a heavy-fuel engine.
The new, undisclosed powerplant has been introduced to support more power-intensive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors. Leonardo is planning further light trials of other new equipment, including a Gabbiano TS ultra-light surveillance radar combined with a high-definition electro-optical infrared system, an automatic identification system and a comms relay suite.
The Falco EVO has already been delivered to its launch customer in the Middle East region, while the original Falco has been chosen by five customers. More than 50 Falco systems are currently engaged on operations worldwide, including those used by the United Nations for its humanitarian MONUSCO mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Leonardo says it expects managed service agreements, where it owns and operates the Falco and provides surveillance information directly to the customer, to be a growth area and is planning to expand what it calls its ‘drones as a service’ offering, including to civilian customers such as police and emergency responders. The company said the Falco EVO “is currently engaged in a selection process for a prestigious international client and will shortly be deployed in the Mediterranean for a European surveillance programme”. Mark Broadbent