Leonardo opens new facility in Pisa
Leonardo has opened a new facility in Pisa, Italy for the development and production of the AWHERO rotary unmanned air system (RUAS), the company announced on 15 February.
During the opening ceremony, the company also unveiled the first pre-production aircraft. Compared to the original variant, the pre-production 200kg class aircraft features an optimised airframe and aerodynamics, new fuel system, new composite tail rotor drive shaft and a new liquid cooled rotary engine.
The aircraft performed its maiden, ten-minute flight in Nettuno in December 2018. The second pre-production AWHERO is expected to join trials and take to the air in the next few months in advance of Italian military certification which is expected by the end of 2019.
With a maximum endurance of six hours, the AWHERO has been designed with multiple payload capacity, which may include radar such as the Leonardo Gabbiano TS UltraLight, electro-optics, electronic support measures, LiDAR and advanced communication systems. For maritime roles the aircraft integrates a deck sensor and autopilot modes to allow fully automatic landing and take-off from vessels.
AWHERO is suitable for maritime and border surveillance, homeland security, pipeline and powerline monitoring, environmental monitoring, SAR missions, disaster relief and damage assessment during natural disasters.
The AWHERO programme was originally launched in 2012 under a joint venture with Sistemi Dinamici which was acquired by Leonardo in 2016.
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