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FARNBOROUGH: Italian MoD buys AAI Shadow UAVs

Italy is the second international customer for the catapult-launched Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle, AAI announced as the show got under way.

Under the $64 million, four-system deal with the Italian Ministry of Defence, the Textron subsidiary will provide the UAVs themselves, launch and recovery systems, ground control systems and data link support.

The Italians will define their data link requirements and can choose between an omni-directional system or a long-range (120km, 75 miles) encrypted high-bandwidth tactical common data link (TCDL) AAI says, after working through matters of frequency deconfliction.

 © AAI

The first international buyer for Shadow was Sweden, earlier this year. The US Army and Marine Corps have operated the Shadow, designated the RQ-7, since 2002.

"We are the premiere tactical unmanned aerial surveillance system, with half a million flying hours with the US Army," says Alan Colegrove, AAI's vice president of international sales for unmanned aircraft systems.

The Italian contract becomes effective this autumn and AAI has one year to make its first delivery, which is expected in October 2011, Colegrove says.

The two-year deal has some flexibility based on the urgency of requirements, he says.

The Italians will get the most recent version of the Shadow, the 4.7, including the TCDL and a new, larger wing that has increased the UAV's endurance from 6 to 9h.

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