Integrated helicopters: a team effort

Among the wide range of integrated solutions that Leonardo offers for defence and security in the various operating scenarios (air, land, naval, sea and cyber) are those related to remote piloting systems.

Leonardo   16 July 2018

Among the wide range of integrated solutions that Leonardo offers for defence and security in the various operating scenarios (air, land, naval, sea and cyber) are those related to remote piloting systems. Leonardo is, in fact, able to offer UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) with proven integration capabilities: from platforms to mission systems (e.g. ISTAR), from different types of payloads/sensors to ground control stations (GCS), from connectivity and data links to training services, as well as integration with other platforms produced by the Helicopter Division.

One of the peculiar features of Leonardo’s offering in the field of remote piloted helicopters consists in its ability to integrate manned equipment and unmanned aerial systems, identified with the acronym MUMT (Manned Unmanned Teaming). This kind of integration makes it possible to complete long and complex missions that can involve different platforms and systems, thus improving air support capabilities.

One example of MUMT is represented by the possibility of interfacing the AWHERO unmanned helicopter with other helicopters such as the AW101, the NH90 and the AW159, greatly increasing the identification capabilities of naval units and the tactical range of their intervention during littoral and blue water operations. AWHERO can also support land forces by providing, for example, Over The Horizon Targeting (OTHT) information or designing a laser target for the use of precision guided ammunition.

The control and payloads of the AWHERO on the battlefield can be performed using a mobile Ground Control Station (GCS), located in a land vehicle or from a forward controller equipped with a laptop. The GCS, fully compliant with the NATO STANAG 4586 standard, has a flexible and modular hardware configuration, and is perfectly integrated with the control room. The human-machine interface has been designed and developed based on the experience of Leonardo Helicopters’ test pilots and is common to the Company’s other unmanned helicopters.

The acquisition of Sistemi Dinamici in December 2016, and therefore of the AWHERO programme for a new unmanned helicopter, further reinforced Leonardo's commitment in the unmanned sector.

The AWHERO is an unmanned helicopter, weighing 205 kg, capable of performing land and maritime H24 operations even in hostile environments and in adverse weather conditions.  Equipped with a wide range of mission sensors located in two payload bays, the AWHERO is able to relay video, radar images and electromagnetic data to other air and surface units in real time regarding complex operations, which see the integration of multiple platforms in the operating theatre. The AWHERO can operate in a maritime environment on board ships as well as on land, ensuring surveillance over a large area during naval operations. Of course, the AWHERO can be tasked for operations in support of humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Leonardo’s Land & Naval Defence Electronics Division and Airborne & Space Systems Divisions supply the AWHERO programme with a wide range of sensors, including the Gabbiano Ultra-Light radar, making it one of the examples of an integrated product manufactured by the company. Moreover, thanks to Leonardo’s high customisation capabilities, other systems and sensors can be installed on the AWHERO.

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