Sky Eye Systems, a company of the OMA group, is developing a new vertical take-off and landing version of the “Rapier” family, the Mini / Light Class fixed wing UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) system for intelligence and surveillance missions. This new model, called “Rapier X-VTOL”, has a maximum take-off weight of 50 kg (which makes it part of the Light Class), an operating range of 100 km (extendable to a few hundred km, thanks to the optional satellite datalink ) and an autonomy of 5 to 11 hours depending on the mission.
It is equipped with 2 tandem engines for horizontal flight (one multi-fuel combustion and one electric), the only one in its category that allows it to land even on fast moving ships or in strong winds, and 8 engines electric propulsion for vertical flight. It mounts on board electro-optical / infrared sensors and other optional payloads such as hyperspectral sensors, Lidar, IFF, SIGINT and also SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), thanks to the extreme flexibility and modularity of the payload bay. The main applications concern ISR missions, route clearance, force protection, targeting, relay, law enforcement and pattern of life.
The development of the “Rapier X-VTOL”, intended mainly to meet the needs of the Marina Militare, will be officially announced in two upcoming international events: the “Mediterranean Aerospace Matching”, which will take place from 22 to 24 September at Grottaglie airport ( Taranto), and the “Sea Future 2021”, scheduled at the Naval Base of La Spezia from 28 September to 1 October.
This UAS VTOL is the third version of the drone family developed by Sky Eye Systems. The first “Rapier X-25” model, which is about to obtain military certification according to the STANAG 4703 standard, has just been purchased as a “launch customer” by the Air Force and delivered to the 32° Stormo of Amendola (Foggia). The AM order concerns a complete system consisting of two aircraft, a catapult launcher and a Ground Control Station (GCS) in which a pilot and a payload operator operate. The Aeronautica Militare and Marina Militare have also sent letters of interest to this system.
The second version is the “Rapier X-SkySAR” (weight up to 30 kg) equipped, in addition to electro-optical / infrared sensors, also with SkySAR, the lightest synthetic aperture radar in the world developed by Sky Eye Systems itself. The three versions share most of the sensitive and fundamental technologies developed in Sky Eye Systems, such as the extremely optimized aerodynamic layout, the Flight Control System and the Ground Control Station, developed according to the highest DO178C-DALB software-hardware safety standards, as well as the structural design almost entirely in carbon fiber. Both of these versions of the “Rapier” will be exhibited by Sky Eye Systems at the “Mediterranean Aerospace Matching” and at the “Sea Future 2021”.
“The latest forecasts estimate a potential world market for military UAS of the Rapier category of about 6,000 units in the next nine years up to 2029”, explains Eng. Giovanni Fumia, Sky Eye Systems head of Marketing and Sales. “With the Rapier family, our company aspires to be able to acquire at least 15% of the accessible market, thanks not only to the technological content developed and integrated in the Rapier, but also thanks to its economic competitiveness on acquisition costs and operating costs compared to competing products. In fact, various contacts are underway with potential Italian and foreign customers “. In addition to the military sector, these UAS also have numerous civil and government applications, for example for security, fire and search & rescue activities, but also for aerial photogrammetry, monitoring of large infrastructures (oil pipelines, gas pipelines, power lines, railway networks, highways , etc.), environmental control and precision agriculture. The Sky Eye System company was founded in 2017 by an initiative of Eng. Massimo Lucchesini, former CEO of Aermacchi and Operations Director of Alenia Aermacchi, and by the Tonti family of OMA in Foligno (Perugia), which owns them, to develop a new family of “Small Tactical UAS”, small tactical drones for applications military and civilian weighing between 25 and 50 kg