Leonardo’s Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS), in a maritime patrol configuration, has been deployed from Lampedusa under the Frontex surveillance research programme.
Leonardo’s Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS), in a maritime patrol configuration, has been deployed from Lampedusa airport as part of the Frontex surveillance research programme to test its ability to monitor the European Union’s external borders.
Frontex is exploring the surveillance capability of medium-altitude, long-endurance RPASs as well as evaluating cost efficiency and endurance. Leonardo was selected by the European agency under a service contract tender for drone operations for maritime surveillance across the Italian and Maltese civil airspace. The current agreement provides for 300 flight hours and may be extended into a longer-term agreement.
Under the deployment, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) activities are organised by Guardia di Finanza under coordination of the Ministry of Interior and are undertaken by Leonardo from Lampedusa.
Leonardo’s flight crews and maintenance teams are present to support the operations with the Falco EVO, which is equipped with a complete on-board sensor suite including the Company’s Gabbiano TS Ultra Light radar. This configuration allows it to carry out extended-range day and night-time missions.
The Falco EVO will operate under a “Permit to Fly” issued by the Italian civil aviation authority (ENAC), which authorises flights in the Italian and Maltese Flight Information Region (FIR)’s civil airspace.
Under the company's “managed service” business model, Leonardo owns and operates the RPAS and provides surveillance information and data directly to its customers.
The Falco EVO configuration being deployed includes a high-definition InfraRed (IR) electro-optical system, a Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) satellite data-link system, a new propulsion system based on a heavy-fuel engine, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and a complete communications relay suite.Leonardo recently completed initial flight testing of the Falco EVO in Bulgaria.