Leonardo Helicopters (Stand S5-110, Static SG14) is hoping to be contracted to develop a new-build unmanned rotorcraft as a follow-on to phase two of the capability concept demonstration (CCD) that it is carrying out for the Royal Navy.
Subject to an award from the UK Ministry of Defence − something the company is hoping to receive by the end of 2018 − Leonardo will look to develop a larger helicopter than the SW-4 Solo currently being used for the rotary-wing UAS CCD, which is likely to be in the 1-2 tonne weight range.
Speaking at DSEI, John Ponsonby, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, said that should a follow-on development phase begin, the aircraft will be a solely unmanned vehicle, unlike Solo, which is an optionally piloted vehicle.
‘‘An optionally piloted vehicle is a perfectly feasible thing to use today, but it doesn’t take you to that next level,’’ said Ponsonby.
The increased weight will allow it to carry more payload, including the possibility of weapons, but it is as yet undecided if it will be a single-or twin-engine design.
The current CCD is expected to complete in mid-2018, and will result in the takeoff and landing of a UAV from a Type 23 frigate.
However, this sea trial will utilise Leonardo’s SD-150 Hero rotarywing UAV and not the Solo.