The Falco Xplorer prototype made its maiden flight in January, and Leonardo is now focused on securing military certification for the unmanned platform by the end of the year learned GDC quoting Leonardo Company.
Leonardo is confident that it can meet its end-of-year goal for certification of the Falco Xplorer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), despite restrictions imposed on the test team under Italy’s wider counter-coronavirus measures.
On 21 April, Fabrizio Boggiani, SVP Airborne Systems, Leonardo Electronics, said that military certification of the latest iteration of the Falco UAV is the programme goal for 2020 despite the current health crisis.
“There is some impact now [from coronavirus], but we are moving forward along our plan,” Boggiani said. “All of 2020 will be focused on getting the first stage of certification – military certification – from the [Italian Military Airworthiness Authority – ITA MAA]. We are hopeful we can still do this by the end of 2020/early 2021.”
As Boggiani noted, Leonardo in general and the Falco Xplorer team in particular are not exempt from the Italian government’s coronavirus restrictions. “Everyone in Italy is subject to restrictions – there is no specific flexibility for those working in the military domain. We have never stopped working [on the Falco Xplorer], but surely we have had to slow down,” he said.
Revealed at the Paris Air Show in June 2019, the Falco Xplorer is 9 m long, has a wingspan of 18.5 m, and is powered by a single Rotax engine. It utilises an evolution of the ground control system used on the earlier iterations of the Falco family, while the baseline sensor fit comprises a Gabbiano T-80UL multimode synthetic aperture radar that can undertake mapping and ground moving target indication, as well as a LEOSS gyro-stabilised electro-optic turret and a SAGE signals intelligence (SIGINT) suite. While weapons could be integrated, Leonardo has previously stated that this is not currently planned for the platform.
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