Navies and Coast Guards worldwide are deploying tactical uncrewed air systems (UASs) in order to provide wide area ISR capabilities to vessels and contribute to the formation of a robust and dynamic Recognized Maritime Picture. UASs are becoming an important capability for maritime intelligence gathering. These systems provide considerable advantages when capable of being equipped with sensors, such as Maritime SAR/ISAR radar, which enable wide area/long range contact detection and classification through weather-penetrating radio frequency (RF) based technologies.

AWHero, Leonardo’s 200kg class military grade rotary UAS, successfully completed in-flight tests for the verification and validation of its high-end Maritime ISR multi-sensor suite, which is comprised of the Maritime ISAR Radar (Leonardo Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-light), an 8-inch EO/IR, and AIS transceiver.

The Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-Light Maritime Radar, manufactured by Leonardo, is a low SWAP multimode mechanical scan surveillance radar with 180° azimuth coverage. Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-Light has been specifically designed for maritime surveillance and it is equipped with target Track While Scan (TWS) capabilities, Maritime Moving Target Indicator (MMTI) with a high-resolution Inverse Synthetic-Aperture Radar (ISAR) and capability for target classification. Gabbiano radar provides all-weather/day and night surveillance in conditions where automatic search and detection optical systems are strongly limited (e.g., haze, fog, rain). To optimize capability in the maritime environment, Gabbiano Ultra-Light operates in X-band, which is less sensitive to weather phenomena with respect to Ku-band radar systems.

Within the AWHero Control Station, Radar Tracks (in NATO symbology) and AIS data are merged for potential threats first reconnaissance and EO/IR is automatically controlled to frame the target selected on the display. Control Station STANAG 4586 compliant, with EO/IR video flow in STANAG 4609 format, and Radar Tracks compliant with STANAG 4676, make the AWHero ready for full integration into ship CMS.

The AWHero equipped with the Leonardo Gabbiano TS20 Ultra-Light Radar is the most effective embarked UAS to reliably provide the host vessel with a persistent surveillance capability and a complete maritime picture providing area coverage of more than four-times greater than other UAS of the same weight category equipped with optical sensors.