Leonardo has completed the delivery of its Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS) to its launch customer in the Middle East, the company announced at the Dubai Air Show 2017.
The first of the newly-built aircraft was completed in August with the acceptance test carried out at Leonardo’s RPAS design and construction facility in Ronchi dei Legionary, Italy. It was delivered in September.
The Falco EVO, the longest-endurance model from Leonardo’s Falco RPAS family, is a surveillance and intelligence-gathering platform that can fly for more than 20 hours while carrying a payload of up to 100 kg.
The Falco EVO has already been selected by two customers in the Middle East and Gulf region, echoing the success of the original Falco RPAS which has been chosen by five international customers. Existing Falco aircraft can be converted to the EVO model via the installation of a transformation kit which adds longer wings and tail booms.
More than 50 Falco family RPAS are currently in operation around the world, with some customers choosing to operate them independently while others, such as the United Nations for its humanitarian MONUSCO mission, opt for Leonardo to own and operate the Falco aircraft and provide surveillance data as a managed service.
This latter model is seen as a growth area for Leonardo, which is why the company recently partnered with certified air operator Heli Protection Europe (HPE) with a view to expanding the ‘drones as a service’ offering into the civilian domain. Here, Leonardo plans to offer surveillance and reconnaissance services on behalf of customers such as police and emergency responders.