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DSEi: Falco UAV makes first flight with PicoSAR radar

Selex Galileo has test flown a Falco unmanned air vehicle in the UK with its PicoSAR miniature synthetic aperture radar payload, and says the combination could play a valuable role in detecting improvised explosive devices.

Flown at the company's UAV test facility at the ParcAberporth centre of excellence in west Wales, the Falco tactical air vehicle was equipped with the active electronically scanned array PicoSAR and an electro-optical/infrared sensor for the recent trials activity.

"The high-resolution SAR, coupled with change detection, make the radar particularly useful for counter-IED missions, detecting disturbances in ground surface," Selex Galileo says. Weighing just 10kg (22lb), the sensor can produce SAR imagery in both strip and spot modes from a range of up to 20km (10.8nm), and collect ground moving target indication data.

© Selex Galileo
A PicoSAR-produced image of the ParcAberporth UAV centre

Selex Galileo has also revealed further details of a separate test campaign conducted with the Falco at the Robonic Arctic Test UAV Flight Centre in Kemijarvi, Finland from late July. The company performed handover missions with an air vehicle equipped with a more powerful datalink, and says these demonstrated the ability to perform surveillance tasks "much beyond line-of-sight".

The company also used the Finnish campaign to test an improved version of its truck-mounted high-mobility ground control station, which provides command and control services for the Falco system, plus mission planning and debriefing functions.

 Selex Galileo Falco has undergone a series of catapult tests in Finland
© Selex Galileo
Extensive testing of the Falco system took place in Finland

Pakistan is in the process of acquiring five Falco systems for its army, including one now being producted by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. Selex Galileo has also previously identified Libya as another possible future buyer. The UAV has a maximum take-off weight of 420kg and a mission endurance of 8-14h, depending on payload configuration.

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