Leonardo’s Falco Xplorer drone unveiled at the Paris Air Show 2019 is free from United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations being entirely designed and manufactured in Europe.
In addition, its technical characteristics place it within the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) class II category which together with the ITAR-free status make the Falco Xplorer readily exportable around the world, Leonardo announced.
The ITAR states if a foreign-made product has more than 10% US made components, then State Department approval is mandatory for its export. In a case last year, MBDA could not sell its Scalp missiles to Egypt as part of the Rafale fighter jet contract as the missile came under the ITAR restrictions. The approval was received after lobbying at the highest level by France and led to delays in contract execution.
The Falco Xplorer is Leonardo’s largest-ever Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS). The new drone features a payload capacity of 350kg, more than 24 hours flight time and a satellite communications capability for beyond-radio-line-of-sight operations, all within a 1.3 ton maximum take-off weight (MTOW).
Following the unveiling, the new RPAS is expected to embark on its maiden flight in June from Trapani Airport in Italy. A series of trials will then take place throughout the year, capped off by a flight campaign with the platform’s fully-integrated sensor suite on-board. The RPAS could then be delivered to its launch customer as early as 2020. The drone will be certified according to NATO STANAG4671, meaning that it will be readily approved to fly for NATO countries.
Leonardo said everything is designed in-house; the aircraft, sensor suite, mission system and ground control station. The Falco Xplorer will be offered as both an integrated platform and as a fully managed information-superiority service. In the latter model, Leonardo will operate the aircraft and its sensors and manage logistics to provide actionable information directly to the customer.
The Falco Xplorer is undergoing certification for flight in non-segregated airspace, meaning Leonardo will be able to pitch it to civil customers such as coast guards and emergency responders as well as the military market.