Selex ES Falco

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Falco UAV
Role Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
National origin Italy
Manufacturer Selex ES
Designer Galileo Avionica
First flight December 2003 [1]
Introduction 2009 [2]
Primary user Pakistan Air Force
Number built ~50 production aircraft [3]

The Falco (English: hawk) is a tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed and produced by Selex ES (originally by Galileo Avionica) of Italy. The UAV is designed to be a medium-altitude, medium-endurance surveillance platform [1] capable of carrying a range of payloads, including several types of high resolution sensors. A larger variant, the Falco EVO,[4] is capable of carrying larger payloads is also available. Neither system is designed to carry weapons, The launch customer, Pakistan, reportedly wanted the Falco armed, a request that Italy rejected.[5]

Development[edit]

  • The Falco UAV's maiden flight took place in December 2003 and Galileo Avionica had completed platform qualification in late October 2004. Over 40 hours of flight-testing had been completed by then at the Salto di Quirra test range in Sardinia. Validation of flight controls had been completed in September 2004. Testing of the onboard systems was planned to be started in early 2005 and integration of the electro-optical sensor suite planned for July 2005. Radar installation was scheduled to begin in 2006.[1]
  • In January 2007 it was reported that Galileo Avionica had finished factory acceptance tests and was ready to deliver the first production Falco UAV System to its launch customer, then believed to be Pakistan. The production version of the Falco UAV used a modified powerplant developing 80 hp (60 kW), supplied by UAV Engines.[6]
  • In March 2009 in was reported that a modified version named Falco Evo, evo meaning evolution, was being offered. It features larger tail booms and wings which almost double wingspan to 12.5 m and increase payload from 70 kg to 100 kg. The Falco Evo's first flight was expected to take place by mid-2010.[3]
  • At the time Selex ES officials refused to identify the customer, but it was known that Pakistan had ordered 5 systems, including a total of 25 Falco UAVs with spare flight units and ground control stations (GCS). Two systems were in service by March 2009, two more had been delivered and the final assembly of the last system was being undertaken in Pakistan.[3]
  • In August 2009 it was reported that the Falco UAV had completed flight-tests while being launched by a catapult launch system, the Robonic MC2555LLR pneumatic launcher.[7] Pakistan started manufacturing the Falco UAV at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra [8]
  • SELEX Galileo, now Selex ES, announced on 23 July 2012 that the Falcon Evo had successfully completed its 40-minute maiden flight from Cheshnegirovo air base in Bulgaria.[10][11]
  • In September 2013, Selex ES has announced a deal worth over 40 million Euros (US $52 million) to sell its Falco UAV to an unnamed Middle Eastern country [13]

Design[edit]

The Falco UAV System comprises:[14]

  • Ground Control Station (GCS)
  • Ground Data Terminal (GDT)
  • Ground Support Equipment (GSE)
  • 4 Falco UAVs housing payloads specified by the user

The Falco UAV is 17 feet (5.2 m) long, 6 feet (1.8 m) high, has a 24-foot (7.3 m) wingspan and a top speed of 134 mph (216 km/h). A maximum altitude of around 16,400 feet (5,000 m) and endurance of up to 14 hours can be attained.[15][16] As well as providing the Falco air vehicle, Selex ES offers a range of sensors, including EOST 46 electro-optical/infrared turret, Gabbiano 20 multi-mode surveillance radar and the PicoSAR radar. The latter is a compact, active "e-scan" radar providing synthetic aperture radar imagery and ground moving target indication. When used in conjunction with change detection software, the PicoSAR can be a powerful counter-IED tool. The Falco can also carry the SAGE electronic warfare suite for accurate direction-finding, classification and geo-location of emitters.[17]

The Falco EVO System has a payload capacity of up to 100 kg and an extended endurance of up to 18 hours.[10]

Operators[edit]

World operators of the Falco and Falco Evo

Falco is the only tactical UAS entirely developed in Europe to have been exported and used in operations.[18] Elbit of Israel has also ordered the Selex ES Gabbiano radar for the Hermes 450 and 900 UAVs, for long-range surveillance cover over land or sea, with applications including synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR imagery modes.[19] Selex ES has not commented on operators but the Falco has been reported as being acquired by the following countries:

 Libya
  • In July 2009 according to the French research agency ADIT a deal for a sale of Falco UAVs was awaiting Italian government approval.[20][21]
 Jordan
  • According to Army-Technology.com, in November 2009 the Jordanian Armed Forces awarded a contract to SELEX Galileo to develop indigenous UAV technologies and electro-optic sensors for Jordan special operations forces based on the company's Falco tactical unmanned aerial system (TUAS).[22]
 Pakistan
  • According Flightglobal.com, in January 2007 Pakistan became the first Falco export customer.[23]
 Saudi Arabia
  • On 13 July 2012 ainonline.com reported a new sale for the Falco, bringing the number of export customers to four, and that more than 50 air vehicles were operational at the time.[17]
 Turkmenistan 3 Falco XN in 2011 [24]
 United Nations
  • The United Nation Peacekeeping force has started using the Falco UAV in places such as war torn DR Congo since 3 December 2013 .[25][26] According to Allen Mcduffee of Wired.com's dangerroom,[27]"the United Nations has turned to spy drones for the first time in its history in an effort to increase pressure in militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, marking both a major technological advancement in the organization’s peacekeeping arsenal as well as a shift in how it views the use of unmanned aerial vehicles".[28] The purchase contract of 5 “Falco” drones (price about €50million) was signed at the end of July with Selex ES by the Department of Maintenance Operations for peace of the UN [29]

Operational history[edit]

It has been deployed by Pakistan's military, after the purchase of 24 planes, to the Swat Valley, and a partnership is planned between Selex Galileo partner and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, a state-owned defense manufacturer, to produce the Falco in Pakistan.[15] The Falco does not carry armaments and has no strike capability. The U.S has refused to sell Pakistan its more advanced UAVs over concerns about "sensitive data".[15] The word Falco means hawk in Italian.

  • The Pakistani unarmed Falco UAVs are believed to have been used during the country’s 2009 security operations in the Swat Valley for locating "all kinds of targets," including "ammunition dumps, bunkers, hide-outs, pickets" and other types of infrastructure used by the insurgency.[30]
  • A locally-built drone crash landed at Base near Chak 96 Sargodha. The aircraft suffered minor damages and no one was injured on the ground.[31][32]

Specifications (Falco)[edit]

Data from AirForce-Technology.com

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

  • Hardpoints: 2× under-wing with a capacity of 70 kg

Avionics

  • Communications: Jamming-resistant data-link, real time data transmission, range >200 km

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2004/11/02/189533/falco-prepared-for-system-tests.html
  2. ^ http://www.janes.com/news/defence/air/jdw/jdw081125_1_n.shtml
  3. ^ a b c http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/03/05/323367/selex-galileo-targets-uk-falco-uav-flights-deal-with.html
  4. ^ http://www.selex-es.com/-/falco-evo
  5. ^ http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=aerospacedaily&id=news/asd/2011/03/01/01.xml&headline=Pakistan%20Air%20Chief%20Outlines%20Procurement%20Plans[dead link]
  6. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/01/29/211769/first-galileo-avionica-falco-uav-set-for-delivery-launch-customer-remains.html
  7. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/08/10/330813/auvsi-selex-galileo-proves-falcos-rail-launch-performance.html
  8. ^ "Complex at Kamra to manufacture drones". Dawn. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/09/08/331961/dsei-falco-uav-makes-first-flight-with-picosar-radar.html
  10. ^ a b http://www.selexgalileo.com/EN/Common/files/SELEX_Galileo/Press_Releases/Q3_2012/SELEXGalileo_FalcoEVOmaidenflight_gpl.pdf
  11. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pictures-falco-evo-uav-makes-flight-debut-374667/
  12. ^ Michelle Nichols (1 August 2013). "Italian firm to provide surveillance drone for U.N. in Congo". Reuters. 
  13. ^ http://archive.defensenews.com/article/20130910/DEFREG01/309100024/Selex-ES-Sells-Falco-UAV-Middle-Eastern-Country
  14. ^ a b http://www.selex-sas.com/EN/Common/files/SELEX_Galileo/Products/FALCO.pdf
  15. ^ a b c Alex Rodriguez [Pakistan pursues its own drones] 9 October 2009 LA Times
  16. ^ General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Selex Galileo
  17. ^ a b http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/farnborough-air-show/2012-07-13/falco-gains-mystery-customer-evo-prepped-flight
  18. ^ http://www.army-technology.com/contractors/surveillance/selex-galileo/
  19. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/elbit-orders-gabbiano-radars-for-hermes-uavs-358965/
  20. ^ http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2943&Itemid=106
  21. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/selex-galileo-targets-uk-falco-uav-flights-deal-with-libya-323367/
  22. ^ http://www.army-technology.com/news/news70843.html
  23. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/first-galileo-avionica-falco-uav-set-for-delivery-launch-customer-remains-211769/
  24. ^ http://www.unimondo.org/Notizie/Italia-ecco-le-armi-esportate-da-Berlusconi-a-dittatori-e-regimi-autoritari-135097
  25. ^ http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46650&Cr=democratic&Cr1=congo#.UqVWR_RDvE1
  26. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6uag2TSdoU
  27. ^ http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/amcduffee/
  28. ^ http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/12/un-drones/
  29. ^ http://www.jpic-jp.org/pt/pl_pub/pl_pub.php?na=130&idm=en
  30. ^ "Pakistan turns to drones of its own," L.A. Times, URL: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-drones9-2009oct09,0,1637489.story Retrieved 4 November 2009
  31. ^ "Pakistani drone crashes near Sargodha". thenewstribe. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  32. ^ "Pakistan drone aircraft crash lands". Zee News. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014.