Leonardo 19 June 2017
In the Aerospace, Defence and Security sectors, the unmanned aircraft market has certainly witnessed consistent growth and is sure to increase its market share in the near future. This growth in seen both in terms of technological development as a whole, particularly in the field of electronics and microprocessors, and in terms of the interest shown by numerous national and international agencies in the use of these systems to support operations in both the civil and security fields. Indeed, it is estimated that the global market value of unmanned aircraft in the civil sector could reach ca. 14 billion dollars in 2026 with a 300% increase compared to 2017 *.
Initially conceived to cater to military needs, the potential new uses of unmanned aircraft in the civil sector, include the patrol of land and sea borders, monitoring migration flows, combating human traffickers, tackling piracy and smuggling, as well as protecting critical infrastructure and supporting disaster relief operations.
AWHERO: THE NEW UNMANNED HELICOPTER
The acquisition of Sistemi Dinamici in December 2016, and therefore of the AWHERO programme for a new unmanned helicopter, further reinforced Leonardo's efforts in the unmanned sector. This boosted the Helicopter Division’s unmanned aircraft portfolio, which already includes the SW-4 Solo, one of a kind in its category because it was designed to operate with or without a pilot on board. This also makes Leonardo Europe's sole Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) with comprehensive know-how of unmanned platforms and system integration.
THE AWHERO’S APPLICATIONS
Of the different types of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), the AWHERO is part of the tactical UAV fleet and falls into the 200 kg weight class; it can perform land operations in remarkably difficult environments and, when deployed at sea, the helicopter is able to operate in particularly severe weather and sea conditions. Right from the early stages of its design, the system was also developed in order to meet the demanding requirements of operations carried out by naval units.
The AWHERO, which combines Leonardo's experience in the development of rotary wing platforms and Sistemi Dinamici's experience in unmanned aircraft, can be used in missions carried out in the field or in naval missions to provide protection and support to the contingent; transport supplies and engage in anti-submarine and anti-piracy operations. It can also perform operations relating to national security; coastal and border patrols; ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions; the detection, identification and monitoring of vessels; the monitoring of critical infrastructure and environmental research and monitoring.
AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM
Leonardo's Land & Naval Defence Electronics Division and Airborne & Space Systems Division supply the AWHERO programme with a vast range of sensors, making it one of the Company's archetypal integrated products. The AWHERO is highly customisable, meaning that other systems and sensors can also be installed on it.
*Credit Frost & Sullivan