Leonardo Falco Xplorer
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
The Leonardo Falco Xplorer, unveiled at Paris Air Show 2019, is the next iteration of the decades-old Falco UAV program.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Falco Xplorer is the third iteration of Leonardo's Falco Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) line. The product (in mockup form) was showcased at Paris Air Show 2019 and has an appearance more akin to the American General Atomics "Predator" line than the original Falco offering. The original form was followed by the Falco Evo which took on new, greater dimensions and a broader mission set. The Xplorer is a further evolution of this thinking, bringing about growing capabilities and improvements to performance.
The Xplorer marks Leonardo's largest UAV attempt to date.
As showcased, the Xplorer has a running length of 9 meters, a wingspan measuring 18.5 meters, and a height of 3.8 meters. With a payload capacity of 770lb of mission equipment and sensors, the MTOW reaches 2,600lb. A conventional engine is seated at the aft-end of the fuselage section, used to drive a multi-bladed propeller unit in pusher arrangement. This provides the Xplorer with a service ceiling up to 30,000 feet and a mission endurance window of approximately 24 hours - giving the system good "legs" in the air. SATellite COMmunications (SATCOM) will ensure Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLoS) capability.
Beyond this, the layout of the aircraft is traditional as UAVs go. The fuselage houses all pertinent operating systems including the engine, optics suite, and avionics suite. The nose has the usual bulbous appearance common to the Predator line. A simple, wheeled tricycle undercarriage is used for ground-running as the Xplorer requires the use of a runway for launching and landing. The wing mainplanes were straight-edged and capped by upward-cranked wing tips. The Tail unit incorporates a pair of outward-cranked vertical fins.
Onboard systems include a multi-function SAR radar fit, an Electro-Optical (EO) optics turret, and a complete SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) suite.
A first-flight involving the Xplorer is to be had before the end of 2019. The Italian Air Force has been mentioned as a potential military customer while the Xplorer will also be marketed to civilian industries as well.
The completed Xplorer package will include a Ground Control Station (GCS), Ground Data Terminal (GDT), Ground Support Segment (GSS), and two Falco Xplorer aircraft.