Leonardo has developed a series of technology demonstrators used as platforms for national and European research programmes, with the aim of developing unmanned military and civil aircraft systems for ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance), URAV (Unmanned Reconnaissance Aerial Vehicle) and UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) applications, while also experimenting with alternative propulsion technologies.
The world's first fully electric unmanned tiltrotor (eVTOL - electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing). The platform, designed to have near-zero environmental impact, is equipped with tilting rotors, integrated in the fuselage, capable of rotating by 90 degrees. The platform combines the flexibility of a helicopter (vertical take-off and landing and fixed-point flight) with the performance of an aircraft (cruise speed, high altitude and long endurance). It has low acoustic and thermal signatures, and does not require oxygen, allowing it to fly in heavily polluted or contaminated conditions, such as volcanic eruptions.
An unmanned combat aircraft and the first UAV designed in Europe in the > 1000 kg drone category, with performance levels comparable to a subsonic fighter aircraft. In flight test campaigns, SKY-X has demonstrated its ability to operate automatically in conjunction with other piloted aircraft. Designed with stealth and low observability features, SKY-X features an on-board computer tasked with operating the aircraft in semi-automatic mode, with a pilot controlling it remotely from a ground station during the most important phases of the mission.
A Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) technology demonstrator, SKY-Y was the first Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) with a turbo-diesel engine, designed to perform surveillance and reconnaissance missions in any weather, and capable of acquiring data through an electro-optical sensor and transmitting it by satellite. The aircraft was selected by the European MIDCAS (Mid Air Collision Avoidance System) consortium, as part of an international research project to identify anti-collision solutions between remotely piloted aircraft and aircraft operated in non-segregated airspace.
The first Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), developed as part of a European partnership to create an autonomous stealth UAV capable of operating in medium/high risk scenarios. Leonardo contributed to nEUROn’s combat capabilities, its low observable data system and its critical airborne security systems. Demonstration testing on nEUROn has validated command and control technologies applied to an unmanned aircraft the size of a fighter jet, with all the backups required to ensure safe operations. This is the first combat drone in the world to operate alongside manned aircraft.
An aerial target system derived from the Mirach 100/5, developed to meet the need for a high subsonic (or transonic) target drone to be used as a threat simulator when testing the latest generation of land, air and maritime weapon systems. With features such as high speed, low radar signature (RCS – Radar Cross Section), effective manoeuvrability during sea-skimming operations and the potential to use a wide range of payloads, the aircraft has proven even more suitable than its predecessor to tackle future transonic scenarios with class-leading agility.
Small, tracked Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) tested for use in particularly critical tactical missions. Lightweight (100 kg) and ready to use in minutes, it is easy to disassemble and transport. TRP-2 is powered electrically (via lithium-ion batteries), can operate continuously for four hours and reach a maximum speed of 15 km/h. Equipment includes a lightweight machine gun, a grenade launcher, four night-vision cameras, pan-tilt zoom (PTZ) and a stabilisation option to ensure the best possible situational awareness.
Underwater vehicle for civil and military surveillance applications, capable of carrying out long-duration coastal and deep-water missions by means of a rechargeable, modular lithium polymer battery. It can operate autonomously (AUV – Autonomous Underwater Vehicle), via remote control (ROV – Remote Operated Vehicle via wire guidance) or in hybrid mode (HAUV – Hybrid Autonomous Underwater Vehicle). It is equipped with sonar and acoustic, optical, chemical and magnetic sensors, and can perform environmental monitoring missions with real-time analysis, including marine life mapping and control, and the testing and monitoring of pipelines and cables on the sea floor.
Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) designed to carry various payloads, operating autonomously via remote (radio or satellite) control and in manned mode. SWAD can be used in continuous blue water missions, for patrol and escort tasks, to identify and deter hostile vessels, and for rapid support and protection of maritime assets.