Leonardo and RAF conduct trial of swarming drone concept

8 October 2020 (Last Updated October 8th, 2020 11:27)

Leonardo has conducted a live trial of a swarming drone concept in collaboration with the British Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).

Leonardo has conducted a live trial of a swarming drone concept in collaboration with the British Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).

In the demonstration, several remotely piloted small aircraft equipped with electronic warfare jamming technology overwhelmed trial radars simulating enemy air defence systems.

This comes after the UK Ministry of Defence recognised the concept for swarming drones as a potential game-changer.

Leonardo and RCO worked with local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Callen Lenz and Blue Bear for the development of this technology.

For the trial, Callen Lenz drones were equipped with a modified Leonardo BriteCloud decoy to create a jamming effect.

The decoy packages were particularly programmed to confuse ground-based radar systems representing the enemy air defence emplacement.

In a statement, Leonardo said: “A powerful demonstration was given, with the swarm of BriteCloud-equipped drones overwhelming the threat radar systems with electronic noise.

“The information gained from the demonstration will be used to inform potential future UK programmes to acquire an autonomous swarming drone capability.”

BriteCloud was originally developed as a self-contained digital radio frequency memory jammer for combat jets. It went into service with the RAF in 2018.

The technology is currently being evaluated by the US Armed Forces. It is also available for other UK allies.

In May, Boeing selected Leonardo and Thales to deliver a UK sovereign Defensive Aids System (DAS) to the British Royal Air Force.

The delivery is for five Boeing E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) MK1 aircraft.