Leonardo Prepares To Test Air Launched Effects On AW159 Wildcat Helicopter

Wildcat Altius


Wildcat Altius
The AW159 Wildcat HMA2 and the ALTIUS-600. (Pictures: Leonardo and Space-I; edited by The Aviationist)

Preliminary trials have already been carried out and testing on the AW159 is predicted by the top of the 12 months.

Leonardo and Anduril Industries accomplished in December 2022 a variety of stay trials with Air Launched Results (ALE) at Predannack Airfield in Cornwall. The exams concerned using Crewed-UnCrewed Teaming (CUC-T) management software program and the ALTIUS-600 drone (produced by Anduril’s subsidiary Space-I), the latter being flight examined for the primary time in the UK.

Leonardo mentioned this trial constructed upon the September 2020 demonstration when a semi-autonomous UAV from Callen-Lenz Associates built-in into an AW159 helicopter’s mission system, permitting the crew to manage the drone from the cockpit as if it was one of many plane’s on-board sensors. In the course of the December 2022 trial, the Leonardo / Anduril Industries workforce was in a position to consider and collect real-world efficiency knowledge on a variety of {hardware} and software program elements crucial to future collaborative drone capabilities.

The workforce developed and practiced the drone to plane coordination, flight maneuvers, waypoints, loiter positions and total Command and Management (C2) crucial for a number of plane to operate collectively, autonomously. The workout routines have boosted the company’s knowledge in CUC-T and ALE data management, laying the groundwork for future, extra complicated trials.

Leonardo additionally mentioned the following step will see trials with extra drones flying concurrently at beyond-line-of-sight ranges. This kind of trials is taken into account important in growing future ALE capabilities. ALEs are additionally being closely examined in america as a part of the Future Vertical Raise “ecosystem” and, particularly, certainly one of essential items of the manned Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft.

Based on FlightGlobal, Leonardo is working to deploy the ALTIUS-600 from a Wildcat helicopter by the top of the 12 months. Dr Simon Harwood, director functionality, Leonardo UK, is hopeful that flight exams might be carried out in 2023; the corporate is “conducting quite a lot of pre-work clearance trials” to allow later this 12 months “integration of that functionality on to the platform to conduct these air trials”, he says to FlightGlobal.

Engineers prepared ALTIUS-600 for flight at Predannack Airfield in Cornwall, UK. (Picture: Anduril)

The exams are anticipated to be carried out with a Wildcat HMA2, the variant employed by the Royal Navy, which has a weapons wing appropriate for carriage of a number of launch tubes. The exams would start with the launch of single ALEs, earlier than shifting to the launch of a number of autos. The Wildcat HMA2 final 12 months underwent extensive testing in various load configurations and environments, together with a heavy load of 20 Martlet missiles. Contemplating that the Frequent Launch Tube has roughly the identical dimensions of the Martlet launch tube, the Wildcat would possibly be capable of carry as much as 20 ALTIUS-600 ALEs.

“It actually is a chance to deliver a mess of emergent and disruptive know-how collectively in a means that modifications the way in which we struggle wars,” mentioned Dr Harwood. “It’ll deliver a big functionality enhancement to the plane we’ve got not seen up to now on the battlefield.”

The sector of ALE is among the newest applications of drone technology and has the potential to dramatically improve the survivability of army plane and improve drive effectiveness. By launching groups of sensor-equipped drones or different payloads that may then fly miles forward of the plane, crews can keep out of hurt’s means and ship results with excessive precision.

ALTIUS is a flexible platform designed for missions together with standoff ISR&T, kinetic engagement, RF decoy, SIGINT, comms relay, and RF/cyber warfare. Nevertheless, Leonardo plans to make use of it in a brand new position as a part of the Defensive Aids Suite throughout ISR and SAR missions, potentially carrying sensors and countermeasures. “Think about how rather more efficient it’s if we set a hoop of metal a kilometre or 500m forward of the platform,” mentioned Dr Harwood.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist primarily based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally finding out to realize a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT methods utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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