General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has integrated the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E V2 multi-mode radar onto an MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and performed its first test flight on April 14, 2021. The maritime-focused radar is also being fitted for the MQ-9B SeaGuardian RPA.
«The benefits of this Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR) in the complex littoral and maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) environment will add world-class situational awareness for our RPA», said GA-ASI Vice President of International Strategic Development Robert Schoeffling.
Designed and manufactured in Edinburgh, UK, the Leonardo 7500E V2 radar is the latest variant of the highly successful Seaspray Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar family, featuring updated processor and receiver technology to meet the evolving demands of the ISR mission set. The 7500E V2 is the largest and most capable Seaspray AESA radar and enhances the operationally proven 7500E.
The Seaspray greatly enhances the capabilities of GA-ASI RPA and builds on the already close working partnership between GA-ASI and Leonardo.
Tony Innes, VP Sales, Radar and Advanced Targeting at Leonardo said, «GA-ASI are an important partner and I’m delighted to see our joint projects generating interest in the market. Seaspray’s long-range, wide-area maritime and ground surveillance capability makes it an ideal fit for the MQ-9A and MQ-9B. The V2 offers significant range increases for certain critical modes, improved maritime detection and the ability to handle a high number of targets, while improving on its already-capable over-land mode suite».
Leonardo’s OTO 127/64 LightWeight (LW) Vulcano naval defence systems have been selected by Damen to equip German Navy’s new four F126 frigates, with the addition of two optional vessels. In addition, the contract includes the supply of support for maintenance activities, simulators for crew training and on-board activities for the integration and commissioning of the system.
The OTO 127/64 LW Vulcano naval gun is a technologically sophisticated and fully digitalized system able to provide constant support to operators and the on-board Combat Management System for the calculation of shooting solutions during mission planning. Unique in the international marketplace, Leonardo’s 127/64 LW Vulcano gun can employ equally the standard ammunition 127-mm and both variants of the company’s Vulcano 127-mm ammunition: Guided Long Range (GLR) and Ballistic Extended Range (BER). The gun extends a naval unit’s defensive capability up to 85 km/52.8 miles/45.9 NM while maintaining precision accuracy.
The new agreement builds upon a long-standing strategic partnership between Leonardo – which has different activities in the Country including Leonardo Germany GmbH subsidiary, with a production facility in Neuss – and the German Navy. Leonardo’s naval defence systems already equip German Navy vessels of various, including its Baden-Württemberg class frigates, which are also equipped with the Vulcano ammunition-firing OTO 127/64 LW Vulcano weapon system.
Hein van Ameijden, Managing Director Damen Naval says: «The F126 project is going forward with full speed and in trustworthy cooperation with the German authorities. Leonardo is the perfect partner for our mission to deliver at least four state-of-the-art frigates for the German Navy. F126 will set new standards regarding modularity and capabilities and Leonardo’s naval defence system is an important contribution».
In the naval domain, Leonardo is further consolidating the strategic and established relationship both with Damen Naval and the Royal Netherlands Navy. The Netherlands Ministry of Defence has already selected the 127/64 LW Vulcano naval guns, together with the automatic ammunition loading system (Automatic Ammunition Handling System – AAHS) for standard and Vulcano ammunition, with the aim to modernise the four highly advanced air-defence and command frigates of the De Zeven Provinciën-class.
Damen Naval is building the four F126 class frigates together with its partners Blohm+Voss and Thales. Damen Naval was selected as successful bidder in 2020 following a European tender process spanning several years. The contract covers the delivery of initially four ships in the years 2028 to 2031 with an agreed option for a possible delivery of two more ships in the years after 2032. All building work will be carried out entirely in Germany at shipyards in Kiel, Hamburg and Wolgast.
Northrop Grumman Corporation’s MQ-8C Fire Scout, the U.S. Navy’s next generation ship-based autonomous helicopter system deployed operationally December 14, 2021. Deployed with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Detachment 5 (HSC-22 DET 5) aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS-5), Fire Scout provides greater organic Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR&T) capabilities for the U.S. Navy.
«This is a significant milestone in the MQ-8C Fire Scout program», said Captain Eric Soderberg, U.S. Navy. «The transition from the MQ-8B to the MQ-8C Fire Scout has brought improved sensors and more than doubles the on-station endurance. Advances in Fire Scout’s capabilities further our successful integration of unmanned platforms at sea and the Navy and Marine Corps unmanned campaign plan».
MQ-8C Fire Scout brings increased speed, endurance and payload capacity to maritime operations. The system provides operators 10+ hours of endurance and range of over 1,000 nautical miles/1,151 miles/1,852 km, allowing for adaptable mission sets, including real-time over-the-horizon targeting. When operating with manned aircraft, Fire Scout enables commanders to employ manned assets in a more focused manner.
«Our partnership with the U.S. Navy has been critical in developing Fire Scout’s multi-mission autonomous capabilities which provide greater situational awareness to the joint force», said Lance Eischeid, director, Fire Scout program, Northrop Grumman. «With the ability to operate from a range of surface ships, MQ-8C Fire Scout is a powerful platform that allows the U.S. Navy to increase the detection and tracking of targets through its onboard sensors and integration with manned assets».
MQ-8C Fire Scout leverages a Bell 407 commercial aircraft for its airframe, supporting affordability through reduced lifecycle costs, including initial development, supply chain and flight hour reliability. MQ-8C Fire Scout is also equipped with a Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 (Osprey) radar which enables it to detect and automatically track contacts at extremely long ranges, at night and even in stormy weather conditions when visibility is extremely poor.
Designed in San Diego, California and Fort Worth, Texas by a joint Northrop Grumman/Bell team and manufactured in Ozark, Alabama and Moss Point, Mississippi, the MQ-8C Fire Scout achieved initial operational capability in June 2019 and will begin replacing the MQ-8B Fire Scout variant on upcoming deployments.
Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.
Leonardo and the Directorate for Air Armaments and Airworthiness of the Italian Secretariat General of Defence/National Armaments Directorate signed 12 January 2022 the Acquisition Contract for the supply of AW169M Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) to the Austrian Ministry of Defence. The contract, valued at 346 million EUR, was signed in the framework of the Italy-Austria Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement. It is aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector, with Austria looking at Italy and the AW169M LUH programme for the replacement of its ageing fleet of Alouette III aircraft, which have been in service since the 1960s.
The programme envisages the delivery from Leonardo’s Vergiate final assembly plant (Northern Italy) of 18 helicopters – six AW169 in the ‘B’ variant, 12 in the ‘MA’ advanced multirole variant with integrated mission equipment and weapon systems – plus a comprehensive and customised support and training package. The helicopters will be able to carry out a wide range of missions supporting Austrian defence requirements and the national community, such as troop transport, combat operations, disaster relief and emergency response, fire-fighting, mountain rescue and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). The first AW169M LUH is expected to be delivered before year end and all helicopter’ deliveries are expected to be completed by 2026. The contract also includes options for a further 18 helicopters. Austrian crews will leverage initial training delivered with the support of Italian Army’s and its expertise as an AW169M LUH operator, and will also benefit from the supply of dedicated training and simulation devices.
Yesterday’s signing marks the latest step thanks to the preliminary Government to Government (G2G) document, which was signed by the Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini and the Austrian Minister of Defence, Klaudia Tanner on 2 December 2021. Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini said: «We’re happy with this result which brings to a new phase of collaboration on procurement. It demonstrates the quality of Italian technology and products through international recognition. We really believe G2G is a highly effective industrial policy tool and a smart formula to support exports».
Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said: «We welcome the completion of the contractual phase of the G2G initiative between Italy and Austria with this latest step, which allows us to provide our contribution to supply the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the stringent requirement set by the collaboration between the two governments. We look forward to start being an active part in the delivery of this important programme».
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: «This contract is further testament to the superior performance, unmatched latest generation capabilities and the complete support and training solutions of the AW169M to perform true multirole operations, meeting the most demanding needs of operators and for their personnel’s effectiveness and safety. The type will ensure a significant leap forward for national defence and emergency response in Austria».
The AW169M is the military variant of the latest generation AW169 twin-engine helicopter, designed to the latest Federal Aviation Regulations/Joint Aviation Requirements/European Aviation Safety Agency (FAR/JAR/EASA) requirements as well as those standards of military, homeland security and government users. The platform features outstanding power, agility and manoeuvrability, which provides excellent handling characteristics in a wide range of operating conditions including hot and high. The unique transmission design provides power to hydraulic, electrical and air conditioning systems with the rotors stopped (Auxiliary Power Unit mode – APU mode) optimising response time and availability. The cabin is the most spacious in its class and features a constant height cross section for rapid reconfiguration and ease of access. Pilots benefit from a latest-generation, open-architecture avionics suite, including a fully-digital glass cockpit and unprecedented external visibility, providing advanced tactical and situational awareness. Customers worldwide have placed orders and options for over 300 AW169 helicopters today, including military and law enforcement/public service operators, to carry out a range of missions including utility, surveillance, special operations, maritime patrol, land reconnaissance, training, rescue and fire-fighting. In Italy, the adoption of the AW169M by operators among armed forces and government law enforcement agencies replacing many ageing models provides the advantage of unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW169 fleets. This strengthens the possibility to perform effective and safe joint operations with other users of this modern type and represents a quantum leap in homeland security, emergency response capability and overall through-lifecycle costs/effectiveness for decades to come. More than 130 AW169s are already in service today and have logged in excess of 100,000 flight hours in operations worldwide.
Leonardo is pleased to announce that the Polish Navy’s first AW101 (ZR285) achieved its first flight on July 19, 2021 at the Company’s site in Yeovil. The flight demonstrated functional checks of the main airframe systems as well as the control system, and engine-handling checks were taken throughout to monitor the speed range of the aircraft. The flight envelope will now be opened further with testing exploring the bespoke mission equipment fitted to the aircraft.
This achievement is indicative of an integrated Leonardo team spanning the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy. It highlights the strength in collaboration between Leonardo and the Company’s main industrial presence in Poland, PZL-Świdnik which acts as the prime contractor, as all teams work closely across the three nations to ensure this high-end capability for the Polish Ministry of National Defence.
In April 2019, the company announced it would supply four AW101s and a comprehensive integrated logistics and training package to the Polish Ministry of National Defence. The aircraft will significantly enhance the Polish Navy’s helicopter capability.
PZL-Świdnik, acts as the prime contractor and is responsible for the entire contract execution, and at Leonardo in Yeovil, the team assembles the aircraft. The AW101 (ZR285) will perform a range of missions for the Polish Navy including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).
The AW101 (ZR285) for the Polish Naval Aviation Brigade will be equipped with the most modern mission systems, including autopilot with SAR modes, data transmission system, tactical navigation system and protection and defence systems (passive and active). In addition, the AW101 (ZR285) will be equipped with a tactical radio, reconnaissance radar, an observation head (FLIR) and an S-mode transponder. It will also be equipped with a 12.7-mm machine gun.
In addition, there will be a searchlight and arrayed lights, which will ensure good visibility in all-weather conditions. The aircraft will be optimized with medical and rescue equipment, including two winches and a system for carrying loads on the external suspension. In addition, the AW101 fleet will be equipped with an emergency float system, life rafts, and a cold climate survival kit.
«This was the first flight of the new AW101 ASW aircraft built here in Yeovil for the Polish military. The flight represents not only the culmination of the design and production processes but also the start of the thorough testing phase of the aircraft’s development. It is expected that there will be a total of 700 hours of flight testing across the four airframes which will confirm the correct function of each aircraft as well as develop and validate a broad range of mission and customer specific changes from the standard AW101», commented Miles Barnett, Senior Test Pilot at Leonardo Helicopters (UK).
Designed with sophisticated avionics and mission systems, coupled with long range and endurance, thanks to its ability to use two out of three engines for cruise flights, the AW101 helicopter provides operational persistence for all missions. This mission flexibility makes the AW101 the most advanced, versatile and capable multi-role helicopter available today. The helicopter is already in service in some of the most important NATO nations, such as Italy, the UK, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Portugal.
Northrop Grumman Australia and Leonardo Australia’s team has been shortlisted to proceed to the next phase of the SEA129 Phase 5 program for the acquisition of a Maritime Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS) designed to deliver a deployable Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR&T) capability to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The Northrop Grumman and Leonardo proposal will enhance capability effects and tactical decision-making during RAN maritime operations.
Northrop Grumman brings decades of unmatched expertise delivering and sustaining unmanned and manned aerial systems for customers in Australia and across the globe , said Christine Zeitz, general manager, Asia Pacific, Northrop Grumman. We are confident our MUAS offering delivers world-class capability that addresses the RAN’s ISR&T mission requirements and optimises Australian industry capability .
Without a doubt, the quality of equipment, as well as manufacturing processes, should surpass ordinary industry standards to ensure that the end product remains robust and matches the high-level requirements of the RAN. When working to produce Intelligence mechanisms and machines for the Australian Defence Force, a certain level of excellence is a natural expectation. Companies that strive on this front should ideally be recognised as the authority in this field, and maintain quality standards by obtaining necessary certifications through iso 9001 quality management systems in Australia, among others, to truly stand out as a contender.
The Northrop Grumman and Leonardo team’s proposal includes the state-of-the-art AWHero MUAS platform and subsystems, a capability specifically designed to operate in complex maritime environments. The AWHero is based on a mature and modular architecture that allows a wide and easily reconfigurable range of payloads including Leonardo’s Maritime Radar for unmatched ISR&T area coverage.
The team’s offering also includes an exportable variant of Northrop Grumman’s ground-breaking Distributed Autonomy/Responsive Control (DA/RC) command and control system. Integrated with the ship, control station and aircraft, DA/RC will deliver enhanced and automated tactical decision making to the RAN to help outmatch threats in a complex, unpredictable threat environment. The collaborative autonomy software will also be incorporated in Northrop Grumman Australia’s distributed systems integration laboratory which will provide the RAN and Australian industry a collaborative development environment to effectively exploit evolving technologies.
We are excited to join forces with Northrop Grumman and Australian industry partners, further strengthening our collaborative approach in Australia , said Brian McEachen, VP Military Sales Asia-Pacific, Leonardo Helicopters. The integrated capability of the AWHero leverages Leonardo’s expertise in rotorcraft, system integration, UAS and operations in the maritime domain, which combined with Northrop Grumman’s extensive portfolio of world-leading capabilities and technologies will provide the Royal Australian Navy with a level of advanced MUAS-based ISR&T they seek both now and into the future .
An integral part of the Northrop Grumman and Leonardo proposal is a commitment to maximising Australian industry participation. A robust and reliable domestic support network of proven industry members will be engaged in the production, delivery, sustainment and follow-on development of sovereign MUAS capability to the Australian Defence Force to meet the RAN’s current and future needs.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.
Leonardo has signed a contract with Fincantieri worth approximately 150 million euro to provide equipment for the initial two U212 Near Future Submarines (NFS), the first of which is due to join the Italian Navy fleet in 2027. This strategic equipment will enhance the surveillance and protection capabilities of the Italian Navy as they carry out operations beneath the waves in Italian and international waters.
The contract includes the design and development of a next-generation Combat Management System (CMS) as part of the Italian Navy’s “Naval Law” modernization programme. The supply forms part of a broader programme under which Fincantieri is providing two U212 NFS submarines plus options for two more as well as technical and logistic support.
In addition to the CMS, Leonardo will also provide a simulation and training laboratory at the Italian Navy’s Submarine Centre in Taranto and a package of logistic support including staff training and a set of spare parts.
The new U212 Near Future Submarines build on the U212A (Todaro-class) design while featuring a range of technological advances. Four U212A submarines went into service with the Italian Navy in 2006.
This contract is a strategic development for Leonardo in the naval sector. By adding a submarine CMS to its portfolio, Leonardo is broadening its offer into the submarine market. With commonalities between the submarine CMS and Leonardo’s equivalent system for surface vessels, the company is expecting to exploit synergies between the two systems, with investment in innovation benefitting both product lines.
The strengthening of Leonardo’s core businesses, including by enhancing areas of expertise which cut across business lines, such as command and control, is one of the pillars of the «Be Tomorrow – Leonardo 2030» strategic plan. Leonardo is developing pathways to sustainable growth through leadership in next generation technologies.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is working with Leonardo to integrate the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E V2 radar into the centerline radar pod of its MQ-9B SeaGuardian Remotely-Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). The integration of this market-leading radar onto the SeaGuardian will enable persistent maritime ISR and is available to our international customer base.
GA-ASI’s MQ-9B is revolutionizing the long-endurance RPAS market by providing all-weather capability and compliance with STANAG-4671 (NATO airworthiness standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems). These features, along with an operationally proven collision-avoidance radar, enables flexible operations in civil airspace. SeaGuardian has a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, and a High-Definition – Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. This sensor suite, augmented by automatic track correlation and anomaly-detection algorithms, enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.
The Seaspray 7500E V2 radar is well-suited to the SeaGuardian mission set, using Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology to detect, track and classify hundreds of maritime contacts. The integration will also include an Open Mission Systems (OMS) approach, which enables the SeaGuardian and its sensor suite to offer operational and sustainment flexibility to end users.
Numerous countries use Leonardo Seaspray E-scan radars and the company has utilized operational feedback from these customers to expand and optimize the radar’s suite of advanced modes. These include Leonardo’s patented small target detection capability, allowing it to spot extremely difficult targets such as submarine periscopes and shipwrecked individuals at long range, even in very stormy seas. A key discriminator of Leonardo’s E-scan radars is their high reliability and fault tolerance that allows effective operation throughout a mission even if a number of individual radar modules fail.
The Seaspray greatly enhances the capabilities of the MQ-9B and builds on the already close working partnership between GA-ASI and Leonardo. Earlier this year GA-ASI announced the completion of initial integration work of Leonardo’s SAGE electronic surveillance unit onto the SeaGuardian, equipping the aircraft with the ability to gather intelligence information on maritime and land-based radar emitters over a wide area.
Customers will be able to choose from a wide assortment of sensors and payloads on the SeaGuardian platform, with both Seaspray and SAGE as off-the-shelf sensor options.
On December 23, 2020, Leonardo delivered the first two M-345 jet trainer aircraft to the Italian Air Force, which to-date has ordered 18 units from a total requirement for up to 45 aircraft. The new type, designated T-345A by the Italian Air Force, will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982.
Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Managing Director, said: «Building on our heritage and expertise in jet trainers, the M-345 will allow our customers to achieve a significant improvement in training effectiveness while at the same time reducing operating costs. This first delivery to the Italian Air Force is a key milestone, the result of a longstanding and productive team working closely together with the operator».
The new M-345, designed to meet basic and basic-advanced training requirements, will complement the in-service M-346, which is used for advanced pilot training. Leonardo’s integrated training system developed around the M-345 platform, is representative of the company’s technological leadership in training pilots to fly current and future generation aircraft. The system benefits from experience with, and technology developed for, the M-346, which includes a «Live Virtual Constructive» capability. This allows aircraft which are flying live training missions to incorporate simulated «friend» or «foe» elements into scenarios, allowing the pilot to be exposed to the full range of possible operational situations.
The M-345 is a high-performance aircraft which supports a pilot’s transition from basic trainers to latest-generation fighters. The Italian Air Force’s acquisition of the new aircraft is an important step forward in the modernization of its fleet, with the M-345 replacing the MB-339A in Air Force’s second and third military pilot training phases. The M-345 has also been chosen as the new aircraft of the Italian Air Force’s acrobatic team, the «Frecce Tricolori».
At the Paris Air Show 2017, Leonardo presents the Aermacchi M-345 next generation high efficiency trainer, the solution for tomorrow’s training needs
M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer)
The new M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) reduces the time required for air forces to train pilots. It also gives trainees the chance to fly an aircraft that features higher performance characteristics than other basic/advanced trainer aircraft currently in service around the world. The performance of the M-345 allows it to carry out the most demanding mission types found in a training syllabus, delivering high quality training at significantly lower cost.
The M-345 cockpit architecture is the same as that of frontline fighters. The aircraft is also able to perform operational roles, thanks to an extended flight envelope, with a high-speed maneuvering capability even at high altitudes, modern avionics systems, high load capacity and performance.
The M-345 is designed with a long life-cycle and a two-level approach to maintenance, eliminating the need for expensive general overhauls. The aircraft’s Health and Monitoring Usage System (HUMS) also contributes to a lower cost of ownership.
A sophisticated on-board training simulator confers a number of benefits. For instance, M-345 pilots are able to plan maneuvers before live training, allowing for higher efficiency during flight. Trainees are also able to fly in formation with other pilots in the air and those training on the ground in simulators, via a real-time data-link. The aircraft’s Mission Planning and Debriefing Station (MPDS) allows trainees to analyse the missions they have just flown.
The M-345’s engine is a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan optimised for military and aerobatic use. The cockpit is based on HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls and features a glass cockpit with a three-colour MFD (Multi-function Display) touch screen. The aircraft’s heads-up display is mirrored on a fourth screen in the rear seat.
27.78 feet/8.47 m
32.32 feet/9.85 m
12.27 feet/3.74 m
135.6 feet2/12.6 m2
7,715 lbs./3,500 kg
9,920 lbs./4,500 kg
Max External Stores
2,425 lbs./1,100 kg
Maximum Thrust, Sea Level Static (SLS), International Standard Atmosphere (ISA)
3,400 lbs./1,540 kg
Max Internal Fuel
1,545 lbs./700 kg
PERFORMANCE (Clean, ISA)
Max Level Speed (SL/20,000 feet/6096 m)
380/425 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS); 437/489 mph; 704/787 km/h
400 Knots Equivalent Air Speed (KEAS)/0.8 MN; 460 mph; 741 km/h
Stall Speed (Landing, 20% fuel)
92 Knots Calibrated Air Speed (KCAS); 106 mph; 170 km/h
Leonardo has recently proven the newly-expanded capabilities of its ULISSES acoustic Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) system in a demonstration off the coast of Italy. During the demo, Leonardo showed how the Firefly, AQS-18, dipping sonar from L3Harris Technologies worked in concert with the ULISSES processor to automatically locate simulated enemy submarines and alert the crew to their presence.
The demonstration follows the successful integration of the Firefly dipping sonar with the ULISSES system. Firefly incorporates a high-powered active sonar which can dive down up to 200 m/656 feet below the sea surface and detect targets as far away as 20 miles/32 km while transmitting sonar and sonobuoy processing, audio and video to the shore via a wideband data link.
For the demo, the ULISSES and Firefly equipment was installed on a naval vessel while an Italian Navy NH-90 helicopter supported by dispensing sonobuoys during the trial. A key design feature of the ULISSES/Firefly system is its lightweight form factor, which can also be fitted to small, light helicopters for littoral operations. The integrated capabilities shown in the demo represent a solution to the growing requirement from armed forces to conduct ASW operations in blue and shallow waters.
Observers on-board the command ship were able to watch on an operator’s screen as ULISSES combined inputs from the Firefly dipping sonar with data from active and passive sonobuoys to automatically locate potential contacts and raise alerts. The ULISSES and Firefly systems offer ‘multistatic’ functionality where the processors collect and exploit data from up to 64 distributed dipping sonar and sonobuoy sensors, using the multiple sources of information to accurately triangulate the location of enemy submarines.
ULISSES was introduced to the market at Farnborough Air Show in 2018 and was successfully demonstrated in a live sea trial in November 2019. The system is now fully developed and talks are on-going with a range of potential launch customers.
The successor to Leonardo’s well-regarded OTS-90 acoustic system for Italian and Dutch NH-90 helicopters, ULISSES provides highly-advanced capabilities in an even more lightweight package. This makes it ideally suited to smaller helicopters and is designed as a form-fit replacement for the OTS-90, making it an attractive proposition for the retrofit market. The system is also suitable for fixed-wing aircraft, naval vessels and, without the dipping sonar, drone aircraft.