Navies and Coast Guards worldwide are deploying Tactical Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS) in order to provide wide area ISR capabilities to vessels and contribute to the formation of a robust and dynamic Recognized Maritime Picture. UAS are becoming an important capability for maritime intelligence gathering. These systems provide considerable advantages when capable of being equipped with sensors, such as Maritime SAR/ISAR radar, which enable wide area/long range contact detection and classification through weather-penetrating radio frequency (RF) based technologies.
AWHero, Leonardo’s 200kg class military grade rotary UAS, successfully completed inflight tests for the verification and validation of its high-end Maritime ISR multi-sensor suite, which comprise of: the Maritime ISAR Radar (Leonardo Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-light), an 8-inch EO/IR, and AIS transceiver.
The Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-Light Maritime Radar, manufactured by Leonardo, is a low SWAP multimode mechanical scan surveillance radar with 180° azimuth coverage. Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-Light has been specifically designed for maritime surveillance and it is equipped with target Track While Scan (TWS) capabilities, Maritime Moving Target Indicator (MMTI) with a high resolution Inverse Synthetic-Aperture Radar (ISAR) and capability for target classification. Gabbiano radar provides all-weather/day and night surveillance in conditions where automatic search and detection optical systems are strongly limited (e.g. haze, fog, rain). To optimize capability in the maritime environment, Gabbiano Ultra-Light operates in X-band, which is less sensitive to weather phenomena with respect to Ku-band radar systems.
Within the AWHero Control Station, Radar Tracks (in NATO symbology) and AIS data are merged for potential threats first reconnaissance and EO/IR is automatically controlled to frame the target selected on the display. Control Station STANAG 4586 compliant, with EO/IR video flow in STANAG 4609 format, and Radar Tracks compliant with STANAG 4676, make the AWHero ready for full integration into ship CMS.
The AWHero equipped with the Leonardo Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-Light Radar is the most effective embarked UAS to reliably provide the host vessel with a persistent surveillance capability and a complete maritime picture providing area coverage of more than four-times greater than other UAS of the same weight category equipped with optical sensors.
AWHero is at the frontline in 200 kg class rotary UAS leveraging on Leonardo’s strength and extensive experience in rotorcraft development and system integration.
With its modular, multi-payload capabilities and a mission-oriented architecture it is the perfect solution to enhance operational effectiveness and support commander’s decision making in complex maritime and land scenarios.
In October 2021, the AWHero achieved the world’s first military certification in its weight category, paving the way for further development and integration. The first flight of the platform took place in December 2018.
Since 2019, AWHero has been conducting maritime surveillance capability demonstrations on ships as part of the OCEAN2020 initiative – the European Defence Fund strategic research programme for naval surveillance technology and maritime safety. The programme brings together 43 organisations from across Europe, led by Leonardo.
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