Leonardo’s Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS), in a maritime patrol configuration, has been deployed from Lampedusa airport (Lampedusa Island) as part of the Frontex surveillance research programme to test its ability to monitor the European Union’s external borders.
Frontex is exploring the surveillance capability of medium-altitude, long-endurance RPAS as well as evaluating cost efficiency and endurance. Leonardo was selected by the European agency under a service contract tender for drone operations for maritime surveillance across the Italian and Maltese civil airspace. The current agreement provides for 300 flight hours and may be extended into a longer-term agreement, the company said in a statement Thursday.
Under the deployment, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) activities are organised by Guardia di Finanza, the Italian Law Enforcement Agency, under coordination of the Ministry of Interior.
The Falco EVO is equipped with a complete on-board sensor suite including the company’s Gabbiano TS Ultra Light radar. This configuration allows it to carry out extended-range day and night-time missions. It will operate under a “Permit to Fly” issued by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC). The drone’s configuration being deployed includes a high-definition InfraRed (IR) electro-optical system, a Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) satellite data-link system, a new propulsion system based on a heavy-fuel engine, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and a complete communications relay suite, the company said.