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Leonardo unveils new maritime developments for AWHero

June 7, 2023  By Helicopters Staff

New developments for AWHero include a heavy fuel powerplant, airframe modification and advanced sensor modularity. (Photo: Leonardo)

Leonardo unveiled new developments for its 200 kilogram-class AWHero RUAS (Rotary Uncrewed Aerial System) during a ceremony held at SEAFUTURE 2023 in La Spezia, Italy, on board the Italian Navy’s Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura – Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Vessel).

Leonardo states AWHero is the first and only RUAS in its class with a military certification, obtained in Italy in late 2021, and based on worldwide recognized standards.

Highlights of the aircraft’s new developments includes a heavy fuel powerplant based on a unique twin-engine solution, increasing efficiency safety and Time Between Overhauls. Leonardo also points to airframe modifications designed to deliver what the company describes as significant operational and support advantages (powerplant integration, payload bay capacity, system/sensor integration and field of view, maintainability, on-deck stability).

In terms of adding advanced sensor modularity, AWHero now integrates the Leonardo Gabbiano TS Ultralight maritime radar for all-weather wide area coverage, as well as enhanced survivability and cyber resilience. The system, explains Leonardo, builds upon the certified and proven basic configuration with which it shares the rotor system, transmissions, a core avionic system, data-link architecture, and a control station.


“AWHero is part of a forward-looking roadmap that Leonardo is implementing to maintain its leadership in vertical flight applications in the frame of current and future technological evolutions, which will extensively re-shape this industry,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, MD of Leonardo Helicopters. “Within this roadmap, uncrewed systems and relevant enabling technologies – automation/autonomy, communications, sensors integration and fusion – are key elements in which the company has been significantly investing, while leveraging a fruitful collaboration with the Italian Military Authorities.

Cutillo continues to explains the AWHero’s system enhancements reflect the incremental yet firm move from basic design to CONOPS (Concept of Operations) focused configuration of the aircraft. “This is particularly true for the relevant naval applications, which remain a priority market for these kind of systems, which are able to meet intelligence and situational awareness extension capabilities with an optimized use of resources,” he said.

AWHero is designed to support a range of assets involved in naval and multi-domain operations such as ISTAR (Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), Electronic Warfare, Communication Relay, Border Protection, Combat support, and Force Protection, and can be integrated with the naval combat management system.

Since 2019, AWHero has been conducting maritime surveillance capability demonstrations on ships within the framework of the OCEAN2020 initiative, the European Defence Fund strategic research program for naval surveillance technology and maritime safety, including 43 organizations across Europe and led by Leonardo.


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