Leonardo (Stand S5-100) has been awarded a three-year research contract to develop counter-UAV (C-UAV) technologies for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Following on from a similar two-year programme that ended in March 2018, the company will deliver four baseline systems to the service by March 2020, which will then be tested and developed to tailor them to the RAF's requirements.
The RAF is seeking two additional capabilities from the R&D work that will take place, namely an electronic support RF detection and direction-finding element, and an electronic attack feature.
Leonardo delivered a C-UAV system to the RAF for its previous testing, of which the service still has two baseline systems, elements of which will be repurposed for the new R&D work, including radar, electro-optical trackers and command and control systems.
In December 2018, when UAV sightings at Gatwick grounded all commercial flights, the RAF deployed the system to the airport to help with countering the drones, and these events are said to have ''reinvigorated the MoD's interest'' in acquiring this technology, Leonardo told the DSEI Daily.
While Leonardo is the prime contractor for the work, it will collaborate with partners to introduce capabilities into the system as the RAF requires it, delivering an open concept that can be adapted to include the ''best in breed of component elements'', Leonardo said.
One of the more recent additions to the company's C-UAV offerings is the Skyperion RF detection system from Metis Aerospace, which is now available as part of a Leonardo C-UAV system and will be provided for the research.
The three-year contract is being awarded in two phases, the first one having already been contracted and the second due to be in the coming weeks.
Throughout the R&D work, the UK's Air Warfare Centre will independently evaluate and make recommendations.