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RAF selects Leonardo for counter-drone research


September 18, 2019
By Helicopters Staff


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The three-year counter-drone program with the RAF and Leonardo will start in early 2020 and examine how operators will be able to detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones. (Photo: Leonardo)

Leonardo has been selected by the UK’s Royal Air Force to support the next stage of its counter-drone research and development program. The study is designed to explore the current threat posed by hostile drones and how this is likely to evolve in future, as well as evaluating a range of technologies that could form a future Royal Air Force (RAF) counter-drone capability. The program is expected to last three years and will commence in early 2020.

Leonardo explains the threat drone technology is evolving rapidly, creating a challenge for organizations which need to secure themselves against the misuse of such aircraft. The RAF’s research program will inform how the air force will respond to current and future threats and keep pace with technology over time, examining how operators will be able to detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones.

In 2018 and 2019, following drone sightings at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, Leonardo explains its counter-drone technologies were deployed by the RAF to allow airport operations to resume. Leonardo has a history of providing scalable and modular systems to military and civil customers in the UK and internationally. The company has already been contracted for C-UAS equipment for the Italian Army and Air Force.

Leonardo explains the RAF’s research program will draw on this experience and build on previous collaborative C-UAS research to understand and meet the threat of rogue drones. In the long-run, the research and development programme will help understand and inform requirements for a core RAF counter-drone capability, which would then be used to protect RAF bases.


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