Selex Galileo took the wraps off its new-look Falco Evo unmanned air vehicle on Monday, and also revealed Italian military interest in the extended-range model.
Featuring a lengthened 12.5m (41ft) wingspan and with a maximum take-off weight of 650kg (1,430lb), the Evo will deliver an expanded range of capabilities compared with the Italian company's baseline Falco, which is already in use with three operators.
"The Falco Evo will achieve a longer endurance at higher altitude and with a greater payload," said Selex Galileo chief executive Fabrizio Giulianini after removing the covers at Finmeccanica's exterior exhibit.
To be flown for the first time in early 2012, the new version will have a maximum endurance of 18h, while flying at an altitude up to 20,000ft (6,100m). Its mission payload of up to 100kg (220lb) will include an electro-optical/infrared camera and a PicoSAR synthetic aperture radar sensor, plus Selex Galileo's wingtip-mounted Sage electronic support measures/electronic intelligence suite.
The company claimed that this will make it Europe's first tactical UAV to fly with three payloads.
"We are in final negotiations with at least two more customers," Giulianini said, identifying the Italian armed forces as one of them. "We hope to have announcements by the end of this year."
Selex Galileo is offering the Evo as a new-build system, or as a package of enhancements for existing users of its Falco. "We see a big future for both systems working together. They will co-exist in our catalogue," said Giulianini.