credits: Leonardo Company
Leonardo has opened a new facility in Pisa dedicated to the development and production of AWHERO remote piloted helicopter. The latest variant of the aircraft has been tested last december in Nettuno, near Rome. A new variant will fly in 2019. After military certification it will be used for SAR operations.
Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo’s Managing Director, said: “I am pleased to inaugurate this new facility because it shows the road Leonardo is going through: we invest in the latest technology and highly qualified resources to respond to a rapidly growing market. Unmanned aircraft sector is one of the pillars of our growth strategy and we want to become a market leader in this field “.
Compared to the last variant, which flew last December for 10 minutes, the new AWHERO prototype weighs about 200 kg, it has a modified aerodynamic structure, a new power system, a new tail rotor shaft and a new liquid-cooled engine. The second pre-production helicopter will fly in a few months while the Italian military certification it is scheduled for the end of 2019.
AWHERO is a remote helicopter (RUAS – Rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial System) developed for land and naval operations, and it is the perfect solution in terms of cost for tasks such as environmental asset monitoring and damage assessment in the event of disasters and border surveillance.
In 2019 the new helicopter will be used in the OCEAN 2020 program, in which Leonardo leads a group of 42 European aerospace companies. OCEAN 2020 is a strategic research program of the European Defense Fund for marine surveillance and security technology.