Leonardo deploys Falco EVO via Frontex
By Helicopters Staff
Leonardo’s Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS), in a maritime patrol configuration, has been deployed from Lampedusa Airport (Lampedusa Island) as part of the Frontex surveillance research program. This program is designed to test the Falco EVO’s ability to monitor the European Union’s external borders.
By Helicopters Staff
Frontex is exploring the surveillance capability of medium-altitude, long-endurance RPAS, 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 Italian and Maltese civil airspace. The current agreement provides for 300 flight hours and may be extended into a longer-term agreement.
Under the current deployment, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) activities are organized by Guardia di Finanza under coordination of the Ministry of Interior and are undertaken by Leonardo from Lampedusa with the support and collaboration of Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) and ENAV.
Leonardo’s flight crews and maintenance teams are present to support these operations with the Falco EVO, which is equipped with a full on-board sensor suite that includes the company’s Gabbiano TS Ultra Light radar. This configuration allows it to carry out extended-range day and night-time missions.
“We are proud to be able to demonstrate the capabilities of our Falco EVO to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which is facing the on-going and evolving surveillance challenges posed by maritime borders,” said Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo. “We are ready to leverage our years of experience in drone-based surveillance operations, working with the United Nations and many other international customers.”
The Falco EVO will operate under a Permit to Fly issued by ENAC, which authorizes flights in the Italian and Maltese Flight Information Region’s (FIR) civil airspace. Leonardo explains the agreement reached with ENAC guarantees compliance with national and international regulations and coordination with relevant authorities.
The company continues to explain how the agreement also provides for close involvement from the Guardia di Finanza as subject matter experts with operational experience in defining mission profiles and ensuring the best operational conditions in which to undertake the 300-hours test program.
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 communications relay suite.
Leonardo owns and operates its Falco family of RPAS and provides surveillance information and data directly to customers. This managed-service model is expected to be an area of growth for Leonardo, which is expanding its drones-as-a-service offering to customers such as the police and emergency responders.