The SELEX Galileo Falco (meaning "Falcon") is another addition to the ever-growing list of modern Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) intended for military use. First flight of the Falco occurred in December of 2003 and, after additional testing and clearances, the Flaco was formally offered up for the market in 2009. To date, some 50 aircraft have been produced with the first (and only known) customer being Pakistan. The Pakistani military procured some two dozen Falcos since the UAVs inception and has fielded them operationally in activities centering on the Swat Valley. The Flaco is described as a "medium-class" UAV and, in its original base form, is intended solely for reconnaissance and surveillance - therefore not being armed in the same way as the American Predator or Reaper series. The series' main strengths are endurance and performance at altitude, allowing ground commanders a relatively inexpensive and lower risk "eye in the sky" when compared to the use of larger helicopters or aircraft in the same role. The Falco was originally managed by Galileo Avionica which has since formed with SELEX S&AS to come "SELEX Galileo". Before the Falco, SELEX provided high-end electronics and imaging systems to various defense parties. SELEX itself is the child of parent industrial powerhouse company Finmeccanica, founded in 1948 out of Rome.
Outwardly, the Falco mimics the clean streamlined profile of a high-end civilian sports aircraft. The fuselage is well-contoured and aerodynamically refined, sporting high-mounted monoplane wings that are straight in their design and slightly cranked downwards at near-mid span. From the wings emerge thin twin tail booms that mount the vertical tail fins and these are further joined at their base by a horizontal plane. The engine is housed within the aft fuselage and powers a three-bladed propeller assembly in a "pusher" arrangement. The undercarriage is fixed and consists of three landing gear legs, each sporting a single, shrouded wheel. Payloads are managed along the underbelly and can be varied according to operator needs (NBC sensor equipment, electronic countermeasures, thermal imaging, TV, radar, laser designators). Avionics are housed in the nose assembly. Power to the aircraft is supplied by an 80 horsepower engine allowing for top speeds of approximately 135 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 16,500 feet and operational range equal to 14 hours. The Falco is not a small machine by any regard and promotes a running length of 17 feet with a wingspan equal to 24 feet. When at rest, the Falco tops 6 feet in height requiring several hands to set her into place. The UAV can take off under its own power from a completed runway but has also since been tested with a pneumatic catapult launcher for improved in-the-field capabilities. It is assumed that the UAV can be recovered through some sort of erected netting system as well.
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May 2013 - It was announced that the Italian government has moved to procure the American RQ-7 Shadow UAV series due to critical operational requirements in the Afghanistan Theater. This serves as something of a blow to the Galileo UAV program and Italian defense industry as a whole where government contracts were historically guaranteed to Italian defense firms.
June 2019 - The third iteration of the Falco family of UAVs was unveiled at Paris Air Show 2019. This variant is knwon as the Falco Xplorer.
Usually none though two underwing hardpoints for guided munitions available with Falco EVO model. Base mission payload of up to 155lb.
Falco - Base Series Designation
Falco EVO - Improved Falco of larger size and provision for underwing stores; 6.2m length, 12.5m span, 2.5m height, 650kg weight; 20 hour endurance; 6,000m ceiling.
Falco Xplorer - Improved, dimensionally larger form of all preceding Falco entries; unveiled in June of 2019.
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