Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Osprey Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar has been picked to serve as look-out on-board the US Navy’s newly-upgraded unmanned helicopter, the MQ-8C Fire Scout. The helicopter will be launched from the decks of U.S. naval combat vessels to keep watch for distant threats.
The contract will see Leonardo delivering an initial batch of 5 radars to the U.S. Navy’s procurement organisation, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), for testing and evaluation work. NAVAIR then has an option to buy a larger quantity of the radars for use in real operations. Leonardo has already built a number of Osprey AESA radars so the primary task under this contract is integration with the MQ-8C Fire Scout in time for first production deliveries.
Using its electronic beam technology to scan from high in the sky, crews back on-board will be able to spot even those threats who think they are hiding safely beyond the range of standard ship-based sensors. Employing high-frequency radio waves to ‘see’, an Osprey-equipped MQ-8C Fire Scout can detect targets at extremely long ranges, at night and even in stormy weather conditions when visibility is extremely poor. The radar’s world-first flat-panel technology also means it can be installed within the mould line of the helicopter rather than having to use an underslung belly-pod.
Leonardo is an international leader in radar technology and the Osprey was selected in part because it is the world’s first radar to provide the needed coverage without moving parts or the need for a bulky external radome, all in a package light enough to fit on an MQ-8C Fire Scout. The MQ-8C Fire Scout is expected in future to be fully integrated with both variants of the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship and be used extensively on operations.
The U.S. Navy has chosen the 2-panel version of the Osprey which will provide a 240-degree instantaneous field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI). The lack of moving parts inherent in the ‘E-Scan’ design means that repair and support costs are vastly reduced compared to alternative radar options. Osprey also provides an open architecture, meaning the U.S. Navy can insert new software independently.
World’s first for the Aermacchi M-346FT aircraft of Leonardo-Finmeccanica that will make its official debut at Farnborough Air Show that will open next July 11th. The M-346FT is the multi-role version of the M-346 whose characteristic is to pass very easily from the trainer aircraft configuration to the operational mission.
Mauro Moretti, Leonardo’s CEO and General Manager, has declared: «We Invest in the technological development of highest-added-value activities so that we can stay one step ahead of our competitors. The technological excellence of our trainers is acknowledged worldwide and today we are ready to offer our customers an aircraft capable of combining the operational and training requirements of the Air Forces all over the world, assuring top performances and remarkably lower costs».
Based on the advanced trainer M-346, the FT (Fighter Trainer) variant integrates a wide range of systems and sensors for tactical support and air defence, a tactical data link, a self-defence system, recognition and targeting sensors and a series of weapon systems. This aircraft’s configuration is representative of a basic version with operational capabilities that can be integrate with additional sensors in the future.
The Aermacchi M-346 is the most advanced trainer aircraft currently available on the market and is the only in the world conceived purposefully to train pilots destined to high-performance latest-generation military aircraft. 68 units have been ordered by the Air Forces of Italy (18), Singapore (12), Israel (30) and Poland (8) and it has been selected by the United Arab Emirates.
Thanks to its advanced technical design and adoption of modern «design-to-cost» and «design-to-maintain» concepts, the M-346 has reduced acquisition and operation costs. Furthermore, reducing the maintenance hours requirement of the aircraft has increased its cost-effectiveness.
The Aermacchi M-346 features innovative design solutions. It is an aircraft with a full-authority quadruplex Fly-by-Wire control system that, thanks to the optimisation of its aerodynamic configuration, allows the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack of over 30 degrees. This, combined with the aircraft’s twin-engine configuration, the duplication and redundancy of its electric and hydraulic systems and a choice of state-of-the-art equipment, makes the M-346 the most modern pre-operational tactical training aircraft in the world.
The M-346 is equipped with a digital avionics system, fully modelled on those of latest-generation military aircraft such as the Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-16, F-18, F-22 and the future F-35. It is therefore well-suited for every phase of advanced and pre-operational training, downloading flight hours from the more expensive frontline aircraft.
The M-346’s wide flight envelope, its very high thrust/weight ratio and extreme manoeuvrability make it an aircraft capable of reproducing, for the trainee pilot, flight conditions similar to those they will find on the combat aircraft they will go on to operate, thus maximizing the effectiveness of training.
The M-346 also integrates the Embedded Tactical Training Simulation (ETTS) with the ability to simulate a complete suite of sensors, countermeasures and armaments and also to create a virtual tactical scenario, simulating air, naval and land forces, friend or foe, interacting in real time with the aircraft during the training missions.
The M-346 features hard points, allowing external loads to be carried, as well as a Helmet Mounted Display, vocal commands and an in-flight refuelling probe.
The M-346 Integrated Training System (ITS) includes, alongside the aircraft, an exhaustive Ground Based Training System (GBTS). This enables the student pilot to learn and rehearse the entire aircraft syllabus and training objectives on the ground, before replicating them in flight. This provides significant cost savings when comprehensively training “fast jet” military pilots.
A core element of the ITS is the Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC), linking simulators to live sorties, allowing pilots flying a training device on the ground to be linked with those flying on real aircraft. It allows trainee pilots to add complexity to training exercises while reducing the risks and costs associated with flying several aircraft during training missions.
Aermacchi M-346FT’s main characteristics:
Carefree handling in every aspect of the flight envelope to guarantee to the pilot the best possible concentration on the mission;
Twin-engine configuration and fly-by-wire commands, quadrupled to assure redundancy and the best operational security;
In flight-refuelling capability for long-range missions or extended operational persistence;
High speed at low altitude and high climb rate;
Big handling capability, also at full load and with only one active engine;
Suite of advanced net-centric communication;
Tactical Data Link;
Defensive Aids Sub-System;
Radar Warning Receiver (RWR);
Chaff & Flare Dispenser (CFD);
kit for the reduction of the radar cross section.
GBU-12 (500 lbs) Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb (LGB);
GBU-49 (500 lbs) Enhanced Paveway II GPS/LGB;
Lizard 2 LGB;
GBU-38 (500 lbs) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM);
Leonardo-Finmeccanica has launched Osprey, the latest addition to the company’s electronically scanning (E-scan) radar product range. Based around a flat-panel antenna design, Osprey is the world’s first lightweight airborne surveillance radar to be built with no moving parts. Leonardo-Finmeccanica also announced that the launch customer for the radar will be Norway, which has purchased Osprey as part of the country’s acquisition of 16 Leonardo-Finmeccanica Helicopters AW101s for the NAWSARH programme (Norway All Weather Search And Rescue Helicopter).
Osprey’s flat panel design opens up the potential for installation on a long list of aircraft previously deemed unable to carry such a class of radar, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). In its configuration for NAWSARH, Osprey comprises three flat panels, one on the front of the helicopter and two at the rear, facing out at angles to create the 360-degree field of regard. Space requirements are minimal and the helicopter’s belly is left clear, maximizing ground clearance for challenging rescue landings on rough terrain.
Osprey also marks a second world-first in providing a persistent 360-degree field of view in a lightweight package suitable for small platforms. Osprey represents the latest in «E-scan» technology, meaning that it uses electronic-only means to direct the radar beam – moving it from target to target in fractions of a second. Because of the speed of these changes in direction, the Osprey radar effectively provides simultaneous coverage in multiple directions.
Designed and manufactured in the UK at Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Edinburgh site, Osprey was developed via inward investment from the company in radar technology and expertise. Osprey will be sold alongside the company’s successful Seaspray family of E-Scan radars, which are in active service with the Royal Navy and with a number of export customers including the United States Coast Guard.
In addition to surveillance radars, Leonardo-Finmeccanica is Europe’s leader in fire control radar, providing the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar for Saab’s Gripen NG fighter. The company also leads the Pan-European EuroRADAR consortium to provide the current Captor-M radar for the Eurofighter Typhoon and is leading the same consortium in the development of the Typhoon’s new Captor-E AESA radar.
Leonardo-Finmeccanica in Nerviano (near Milan, Italy) also produces high-performance mechanically scanned radars, the Grifo (combat radar family) and Gabbiano (surveillance radar family). These are both in production and have been sold widely internationally, over 400 Grifo radars and over 50 Gabbiano radars have been sold to date.