Leonardo's Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System being tested as part of Frontex surveillance research program
As part of the Frontex surveillance research program, Leonardo’s Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS), in a maritime patrol configuration, has been deployed from Lampedusa airport (Lampedusa Island) to test its ability to monitor the external borders of the European Union.
Frontex is looking into the surveillance capability of medium-altitude, long-endurance RPAS, while also evaluating the cost efficiency and endurance of these systems.
The European agency selected Leonardo under a “service contract tender for drone operations” for maritime surveillance across the Italian and Maltese civil airspace. While the current agreement provides for 300 flight hours, it may be extended into a longer-term agreement.
“We are proud to be able to demonstrate the capabilities of our Falco EVO to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which is facing the on-going and evolving surveillance challenges posed by maritime borders,” says Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo.
“We are ready to leverage our years of experience in drone-based surveillance operations, working with the United Nations and many other international customers.”
Guardia di Finanza, under coordination of the Ministry of Interior, is organizing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) activities under the deployment. These activities are being undertaken by Leonardo from Lampedusa, thanks to the “decisive support and collaboration” of the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) and ENAV, the Italian air navigation service provider.
To support operations with the Falco, Leonardo’s flight crews and maintenance teams are present. The company notes that the Falco is equipped with a complete on-board sensor suite including Leonardo’s Gabbiano TS Ultra Light radar. This configuration allows the Falco to conduct extended-range day and night-time missions.
ENAC has issued a “Permit to Fly” to allow the Falco EVO to operate. The agreement with ENAC guarantees compliance with national and international regulations and coordination with relevant authorities, while also providing for close involvement from the Guardia di Finanza as subject matter experts with operational experience in defining mission profiles and ensuring the best operational conditions in which to undertake the 300-hours test program.