The SW-4 'Solo' optionally piloted helicopter began a new phase in its flight test campaign at Taranto-Grottaglie Airport on 15 December, Leonardo-Finmeccanica announced.
The new phase, which is being carried out in partnership with Distretto Tecnologico Aerospaziale Pugliese and the Italian civil aviation authority (Ente Nazionale Aviazione Civile: ENAC), will verify the unmanned helicopter's characteristics and procedures in both normal and emergency operating modes. According to Leonardo-Finmeccanica, this validation of procedures and regulations related to the unmanned operation of the SW-4 will run through to the first few months of 2017.
The optionally piloted SW-4 was previously demonstrated to the Italian Ministry of Defence from September 2013 to May 2014 as part of a research and development contract; to the UK Royal Navy in 2015 under the service's Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System (RWUAS) capability concept demonstration; and to the European Defence Agency during Exercise Italian Blade in June and July 2015.
First unveiled in September 2012, the optionally manned SW-4 was developed by PZL-Swidnik in partnership with its parent company AgustaWestland with the aim of boosting its capabilities in the unmanned aviation sector.
In its unmanned configuration, the SW-4 is billed for roles in border and maritime patrol, battlefield surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, homeland security, environmental monitoring, ground survey and mapping, disaster/battle damage assessment, and cargo supply.
The optionally manned SW-4 is a development of the single-engined light utility variant helicopter that was first developed by PZL-Swidnik in the 1980s and entered service with the Polish Air Force in 2004.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact