An enhanced version of Leonardo's SD-150 Hero rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is set to make its maiden flight in the third quarter of 2017.
"After a review of Italian Navy and international potential customers' requirements, Leonardo decided to extend the Hero's mission endurance to 6 hours and increase the useful payload - including fuel - to 85 kg." said James Wang, Leonardo Helicopter's senior vice-president of marketing. "The new version is planned to make its maiden flight tentatively in September, after which it will be subjected to an intensive testing, evaluation, and certification phase including the integration of newly developed payloads for dual-use applications."
The aircraft's maximum take-off weight of has increased from 150 kg in the earlier variant to 205 kg, which is in part enabled by a larger main rotor diameter - 4 m versus 3.5 m - the endurance has also increased to six hours and the maximum payload to 35 kg.
Hero features an improved heavy fuel engine that supports a maximum cruise speed of 90 kt. The aircraft is 3.7 m long and has an articulated three-blade main rotor with a manual folding system, and a two-blade rear rotor.
The aircraft has a triple-redundant flight control and navigation system, and can carry payloads in its nose, belly, or on the sides of the airframe.
"The nose bay, as a 'no dark spot' location, can accommodate a 10-inch EO/IR [electro-optical/infrared] turret, while the underbelly and side bays can be used for heavier payloads", said Wang.
The latest Hero version was displayed at the 2017 Paris Air Show fitted with Leonardo's Gabbiano TS Ultra-Light (UL) surveillance radar and an 8-inch EO/IR turret, both accommodated in the aircraft's nose.
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