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Italian navy sees latest advances on Leonardo's AWHero
Thursday, 8 June 2023
The new developments include a heavy fuel powerplant, airframe modifications, advanced sensor modularity, enhanced survivability and cyber resilience - while building on a certified and proven basic configuration.

Leonardo has unveiled the latest developments for its 200 kg class AWHero RUAS (Rotary Uncrewed Aerial System) during an official ceremony held at Seafuture 2023 on board the Italian Navy’s Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA (Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Vessel).

AWHero leverages on Leonardo’s unique combination of longstanding and extensive capabilities in rotorcraft system development and within integration in support of the uncrewed aerial system and naval application sectors. The first and only RUAS in its class with a military certification, obtained in Italy in late 2021, and based on worldwide recognised standards, which already demonstrate the robustness of the system, AWHero now features new developments stemming from previously planned and anticipated activities based on a range of enhancements.

The new developments include in particular: a heavy fuel powerplant based on a unique twin-engine solution increasing efficiency safety and Time Between Overhauls; airframe modifications delivering significant operational and support advantages (powerplant integration, payload bay capacity, system/sensor integration and field of view, maintainability, on-deck stability); advanced sensor modularity; - the Leonardo Gabbiano TS Ultralight maritime radar for unmatched all-weather wide area coverage -; enhanced survivability, and cyber resilience. However, the system builds upon the certified and proven basic configuration with which it shares the rotor system, transmissions, a core avionic system, data-link architecture, and a control station.

Gian Piero Cutillo, MD of Leonardo Helicopters, says “AWHero is part of a forward-looking roadmap that Leonardo is implementing to maintain its leadership in vertical flight applications in the frame of current and future technological evolutions, which will extensively re-shape this industry. Within this roadmap, uncrewed systems and relevant enabling technologies (i.e. automation/autonomy, communications, sensors integration and fusion) are key elements in which the company has been significantly investing, while leveraging a fruitful collaboration with the Italian Military Authorities. The system enhancements unveiled today reflect the incremental yet firm move from basic design to CONOPS (Concept of Operations) focused configuration. This is particularly true for the relevant naval applications, which remain a priority market for these kind of systems, which are able to meet intelligence and situational awareness extension capabilities with an optimized use of resources.”

AWHero is optimized to support a range of assets involved in a range of naval and multi-domain operations such as ISTAR (Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), Electronic Warfare, Communication Relay, Border Protection, Combat support, and Force Protection, and can be integrated with the naval combat management system.

Leonardo’s integrated capabilities in rotary-wing platforms, system integration, UAS systems and support/training services as well as proprietary technology delivers AWHero’s operators with unmatched system growth and customisation potential and through-life cycle support benefits.

Since 2019, AWHero has been conducting maritime surveillance capability demonstrations on ships within the framework of the OCEAN2020 initiative, the European Defence Fund strategic research programme for naval surveillance technology and maritime safety, including 43 organisations across Europe and led by Leonardo. It has benefitted from a range of capability demonstration initiatives in the RUAS domain in Italy, UK and Europe.

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