Leonardo unveils AWHERO in Pisa facility

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Leonardo – an engineering company operating in the aerospace, defence and security sectors – has opened a new facility in Pisa, Italy, dedicated to the development and production of the new AWHERO Rotary Unmanned Air System (RUAS).

The AWHERO RUAS is designed with ‘high reliability and low operating costs’, and the aircraft can be used in a number of different land and naval operations, including supporting search and rescue missions, disaster relief and damage assessment during natural disasters.

The new facility in Pisa also expands the presence of Leonardo in Tuscany, where the company designs and manufactures a wide range of products in the defence, security and space fields and employs over 1,800 workers across three facilities in Campi Bisenzio (Florence), Montevarchi (Arezzo) and Livorno.

The Pisa facility will employ a workforce of 60 people – this, in line with the unveiling of the new pre-production aircraft during the opening ceremony, marks ‘two major milestones in the development of the AWHERO programme’. The programme originally launched in 2012 under a joint venture with Sistemi Dinamici S.p.A; Leonardo since acquired the company in 2016.

Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said: “I am very pleased to open this new facility because it demonstrates Leonardo’s way forward: we invest in high-end technology and highly skilled resources in order to respond to a fast-growing market. Unmanned systems are among the pillars of our growth strategy and we plan to become a market leader in this field.”

The new pre-production 200-kg aircraft benefits from the company’s systems integration expertise and airborne sensors to make its unmanned systems more competitive in the fast-growing market. It features an optimised airframe and aerodynamics, new fuel system, new composite tail rotor drive shaft and a new liquid cooled rotary engine.

The aircraft completed its maiden flight in December 201, and the second pre-production AWHERO is expected to join trials and take to the air in the next few months in advance of Italian military certification, which is expected by the end of 2019.

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