Leonardo successfully completed the first phase of flight testing for its Falco Xplorer drone, the largest uncrewed aircraft ever built by the company.
The company states the Falco Xplorer is the first MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance)-class uncrewed system to exclusively use European technology. It is designed to deliver persistent surveillance over wide areas of interest and can carry multiple sensors weighing up to a total 350 kg.
The Xplorer is the latest entry in Leonardo’s Falco family of uncrewed systems, which also includes the Falco Evo. The tactical-class Evo is operated by a number of international customers and has accumulated thousands of flight hours around the world, including in civil airspace.
The recent flight testing and certification activities of the Falco Xplorer took place at the Trapani Birgi military airport in Sicily with the support of the Italian Air Force’s 37°Stormo wing. During the flight tests, 37°Stormo provided all essential airport services including air traffic assistance, fire prevention and flight safety.
The Falco Xplorer performed all planned flights on schedule and completed a range of complex functional tests, confirming the maturity of the platform. The behaviour of the aircraft in a number of phases of the flight envelope was also validated.
Leonardo will now move forward with a second test campaign which will take place under the supervision of the Directorate for Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA). This will certify the Falco Xplorer’s ‘fitness to fly’ according to NATO standard STANAG 4671 and involve a series of increasingly complex flights.
Made entirely in-house, the Falco Xplorer’s baseline suite consists of the Leonardo’s LEOSS electro-optical turret, Gabbiano TS-80 UL multimode radar, an Automatic Identification System for the monitoring of maritime traffic and the SAGE electronic intelligence system. The Falco Xplorer utilises Leonardo’s flexible ATOS mission system, which has an open architecture to allow for the integration of additional sensors, including from third parties.