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Rome, Italy, 2020/10/07 - Leonardo, working in partnership with the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), have together successfully conducted a live trial of a ‘swarming drones’ capability - LeonardoCompany.com. FNC IM; SIFI.MI
• A fleet of small, remotely-piloted aircraft equipped with a variant of Leonardo’s BriteCloud decoy proved the cutting-edge swarming drone concept in a live trial at the end of July;
• A rapid cycle of development saw Leonardo and the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office, working with UK SMEs, go from concept to demonstration in just a few months;
• Leonardo’s BriteCloud technology is unique worldwide, has gone into service with the RAF and is currently being evaluated for service by US Armed Forces.
During the demo, a number of small, remotely-piloted aircraft equipped with Leonardo’s powerful electronic warfare jamming technology were used to confuse and overwhelm trial radars simulating enemy air defence systems.
Inspired by swarms of insects, the concept for swarming drones has already been recognised by the UK Ministry of Defence as a potentially game-changing future technology. Following a rapid cycle of development which saw the RCO and Leonardo’s engineers working closely together with UK SMEs Callen Lenz and Blue Bear, this live trial of the concept conducted by UK Armed Forces represents a key step towards proving an autonomous swarming drone capability.
During the demonstration, a number of Callen Lenz drones were equipped with a modified Leonardo BriteCloud decoy, allowing each drone to individually deliver a highly-sophisticated jamming effect. In addition, the decoy packages were programmed and navigated to work collaboratively to cause maximum confusion. They were tested against ground-based radar systems representing the enemy air defence emplacement. A powerful demonstration was given, with the swarm of BriteCloud-equipped drones overwhelming the threat radar systems with electronic noise.
The information gained from the demonstration will be used to inform potential future UK programmes to acquire an autonomous swarming drone capability.
BriteCloud, which was originally developed as a high-tech protective decoy for combat jets, went into service with the RAF in 2018, marking another world-first for Leonardo and the RCO. Known generically as an Expendable Active Decoy (EAD), each BriteCloud round can individually mimic the radar signature of the aircraft it is launched from, causing threat radar systems to track the drinks-can-sized decoy rather than the aircraft itself. The only product of its type now available worldwide, BriteCloud is available for UK allies to order and is currently undergoing evaluation by US Armed Forces.
Leonardo (leonardocompany.com), a global high-technology company, is among the top ten world players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. Organized into five business divisions, Leonardo has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and the USA, where it also operates through subsidiaries such as Leonardo DRS (defense electronics), and joint ventures and partnerships: ATR, MBDA, Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space and Avio. Leonardo competes in the most important international markets by leveraging its areas of technological and product leadership (Helicopters, Aircraft, Aerostructures, Electronics, Cyber Security and Space). Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), in 2019 Leonardo recorded consolidated revenues of €13.8 billion and invested €1.5 billion in Research and Development. The Group has been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) since 2010 and became Industry leader of Aerospace & Defence sector of DJSI in 2019.