Leonardo has added a new member to its Mirach (Mirage) family of target drones, with the company unveiling the M-40 at the Paris Air Show on 19 June.
The M-40 is a remotely-piloted aerial target system that can be used to simulate aircraft and missiles, creating a range of radar, visual, and infrared threats for training ground- and ship-based air defence systems, as well as for air-to-air combat training.
The system builds on technology from the Mirach 100/5 target drone; the key difference between the two vehicles is that the M-40 itself acts as the target, rather than a towing vehicle. This gives it greater flexibility as a training system, as it can be more manoeuvrable and faster compared with a target tug vehicle. Additionally, the M-40 can be used as a towed target for live-firing exercises.
The M-40 has the ability to undertake very low-altitude sea-skimming missions, as well as formation flights and 3D ' g -controlled' manoeuvres. The drone is designed for loads of up to 9 g and can achieve speeds of up to 200 m/sec. Endurance is stated as up to 60 minutes, depending on the mission profile.
According to Leonardo the drone system can be re-used four to five times, with a turnaround time in maritime operations of around three hours. Launching takes place from a 20 m ramp that can be either land- or sea-based.
Payload options include smoke generators, active and passive radar cross-section (RCS) augmenters, infrared augmenters, and miss-distance indicator radar.
The focus of the development of the system has been on utilising commercial off-the-shelf subsystems in order to improve exportability. These include a multi-fuel single engine, which helps to reduce the logistics footprint for operation in remote locations.
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