The launch of small and mini-UAV development efforts reflects a tightening of linkages across Finmeccanica between its military intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISTAR) activities and its network-centric warfare capabilities, Galileo Avionica deputy director general Gianpiero Lorandi says, with development of an agreed roadmap for new initiatives.

One key part of the process is a business-planning mechanism known as INCAS - ISTAR plus Net Centric plus Autonomous Solutions - a framework that matches individual company capabilities with broader strategic business targets in the unmanned sector. "This drives the entire process of the technology product and strategy," Lorandi says. He adds that, given the breadth of the group's UAV activities, such linkages become more critical to ensuring each member company is optimally positioned to exploit emerging technologies. It also ensures the wider group stays competitive in an increasingly complicated international UAV marketplace, characterised by rapid transitions in user thinking about applications.

There are four current trends in the wider market being monitored by Galileo Avionica as part of its group remit, Lorandi says. "There is an increasing industrial consolidation through merger and acquisition, mainly in Europe. There is a drive to use civil market solutions to increase their competitiveness in the military market. There is a growing tendency to offer turnkey services as an alternative to turnkey solutions, so we need to be ready to offer turnkey services and in certain areas to move from being a solution provider to being a service provider. The fourth element is protection of investment and intellectual property rights and this is achieved through recourse to technology processing and patents, which we are also concentrating upon."

The mergers and acquisitions trend is being closely monitored, Lorandi says, particularly with an eye to capturing innovations developed by small and medium-sized companies. There is also a trend towards component suppliers being prepared to become risk-sharing partners in new UAV development programmes, which is changing market dynamics. "They seem to be more and more available to define joint business plans," he says.

Source: Flight International