The Ministry of Defence has selected Leonardo to support a multi-million-pound research & development (R&D) programme to better understand counter drone technology.
Building on previous R&D undertaken with the company in this area, Leonardo will support the RAF to explore technical mitigations to the current threats posed by hostile drones through the evaluation of mature and evolving sensor and effector technology.
Starting in early 2020 and supporting 20 jobs across the company, the primary integration work will be mainly undertaken by Leonardo at its Basildon (Essex) and Southampton sites, with real-time testing undertaken at several MOD locations within the UK.
The three-year programme will examine and inform how the RAF can detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones. It will also support the RAF in responding to current and evolving threats and ensure it keeps pace with technology over time.
The primary aim of the R&D programme will be to help understand and inform requirements for a potential future core RAF counter-drone capability.
Announcing the programme at DSEi today, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Last year at Gatwick and Heathrow we saw the peril drone technology poses to our airspace.
“Today I can announce that the RAF will be working with Leonardo on a three-year programme, looking at how to detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones as this technology continues to evolve.”
Tim Rowntree, Director of Engineering and Safety at Defence Equipment and Support said: “With the increase of small affordable aircraft widely-available on the open market and drone technology evolving rapidly, it is vital that our military are protected against the misuse of such aircraft. This programme of work will undertake vital research and development on behalf of the RAF to explore the current threat posed by hostile drones and how this is likely to evolve in future, as well as evaluating a range of technologies that could form a future RAF counter-drone capability.”