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Leonardo’s UK company has delivered the first of four complete baseline counter-drone systems to the Royal Air Force (RAF) in support of the next stage of its C-UAS R&D programme, the company announced on 3 September.

The ORCUS system is now playing a key role in a wide-ranging test and evaluation campaign, which will improve the Air Force’s understanding of how it can employ technology in response to the threat posed by hostile drones. The RAF will also maintain the ORCUS system as an upgraded national standby capability, to be deployed rapidly nationwide in support of emergency services in the event of a drone-based crisis.

The threat posed by rogue drones is being taken extremely seriously by the MoD. The C-UAS study programme, therefore, managed by the Defence Equipment & Support Future Capability Group, is considered highly important to national security. Leonardo is striving to ensure the programme continues to be delivered, despite th disruption caused by the current pandemic.

Leonardo’s modular systems will allow the RAF to evaluate a range of capabilities, including advanced radar, electro-optic and radio frequency sensors and an electronic attack countermeasure. In due course, further systems will be integrated for test and evaluation. Throughout, RAF Force Protection operators will be examining the most effective ways to detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones. In the long run, the R&D programme will inform the requirements for a core RAF counter-drone capability, intended to protect air bases around the UK.

Elements of Leonardo’s C-UAS equipment were previously operated by the RAF Force Protection Force in 2018 and 2019, following drone sightings at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, allowing airport operations to resume. (Image: Leonardo)

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