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Leonardo helicopter division to absorb AWHero UAV programme

Leonardo will incorporate its unmanned air vehicle (UAV) subsidiary Sistemi Dinamici into the Italian aerospace group's helicopter division, with effect from January 2020.

Sistemi Dinamici developed the AWHero rotary-wing UAV, and the company has been wholly owned by Leonardo since 2016.

Leonardo says the merger is part of the group's "One Company" programme, which is intended to achieve a "strategic and corporate optimisation of assets" and deliver "more efficiency and effectiveness".

Management from both Leonardo and Sistemi Dinamici approved the move on 27 June.

At the Paris air show in June, Leonardo publicly displayed for the first time a pre-production version of the remotely-piloted AWHero, equipped with the manufacturer's Gabbiano ultra-light radar.

Three AWHero aircraft are involved in the certification programme, with two further units set to join the effort later this year, Leonardo says.

First flight of current version of the AWHero took place in December 2018. The UAV was previously designed the SD-150 at its launch in 2012.

The AWHero will be deployed in November for demonstrations as part of military exercises under the EU's Ocean2020 maritime surveillance programme, Leonardo says.

Italian military certification of the AWHero is scheduled for end-2019.

In February, Leonardo opened a dedicated production facility for the AWHero programme in Pisa.

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