Leonardo’s Fierce Falco Xplorer Breaks the Norm With Top-Notch Features

Falco Xplorer nailed its first flight test campaign in Italy 7 photos
Photo: Leonardo
Falco Family UASFalco XplorerFalco XplorerFalco XplorerFalco XplorerFalco Family UAS
Today’s combat scenarios display a high level of complexity and involve threats that are highly variable. In response to this evolution, military assets must also become increasingly flexible. UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) have already established a central position within armed forces throughout the world, but they’re still evolving. The first of its kind in Europe, the Falco Xplorer is one of the trailblazers in this game.
Known for its expertise in UAS (unmanned air systems) with military applications, specifically ISR missions (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) the Italy-based Leonardo has recently reached another milestone. Its latest development, the Falco Xplorer, is one step closer to certification, after nailing its first flight test campaign.

The campaign was organized by Leonardo at the Trapani Birgi military airport in Sicily, Italy. It wasn’t alone, but got a helping hand from the 37 Stormo Wing in the Italian Air Force, which supported the flight tests with safety measures, fire prevention, and air traffic assistance.

This was an important step for the Falco Xplorer, currently under certification, which is Leonardo’s largest uncrewed aircraft so far. It’s also a pioneer in Europe, as the first aircraft in the MALE-class (Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance) boasting 100% European technology.

An advanced military drone, the Falco Xplorer is designed to perform surveillance while covering large areas, and carrying an impressive array of state-of-the-art sensors. This is no easy task, as the sensors add to a total of 350 kg (772 lbs). At the same time, this drone is versatile enough to switch to civilian operations, such as the ones related to public safety.

Xplorer’s sensor suite includes things like a multi-mode radar, a monitoring system for maritime traffic, an electronic intelligence system, and an electro-optical turret. Plus, it’s built with Leonardo’s ATOS mission system with an open architecture, which means that it’s ready to integrate other sensors as well, in the future, including ones that come from other manufacturers. This will make sure that the Xplorer stays relevant and combat-ready, a long time from now.

The Xplorer is the latest addition to the Italian company’s Falco family, with an interesting story behind it. Although the first model in this line, the Falco XN, was launched twenty years ago, its origin goes even further. At the time when Leonardo was operating as Meteor, it developed its first battlefield surveillance drones, the Mirach 20 and Mirach 26 series. These were actually based on the surveillance concept pioneered by the Israeli Defense Forces during the Arab-Israeli wars of the ‘80s. Then, the modern Falco system was built upon the Mirach 26.

As for the Falco Xplorer, it’s now ready to tackle the second flight test phase. Conducted under the supervision of the Directorate for Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA), it will lead to its certification according to NATO standards.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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