Leonardo Target Drones Utilised in Italian Navy Training Exercise

By Mike Ball / 19 Feb 2019

Leonardo has announced that its new M-40 target drone has flown its first live missions for the Italian Navy in a recent training exercise at an Italian joint armed forces test range. The exercise saw the aircraft carrier Cavour and its complement of AV8B+ fighter aircraft training alongside the Navy destroyer Mimbelli against M-40 drones which were simulating a range of incoming threats.

The M-40 is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which is able to convincingly mimic a variety of aircraft and missiles. During the exercise, the M-40 played the part of a missile to simulate an attack against the Italian naval vessels and separately acted as a hostile enemy fighter in air-to-air combat scenarios. During these missions, the Navy personnel were able to ‘shoot down’ the reusable M-40 in realistic scenarios, allowing them to train with weapon systems including Aspide missiles.

Leonardo owns and operates the M-40 on behalf of the Italian Armed Forces, under a managed service arrangement with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). This exercise was the first set of missions to make use of the M-40, which is able to represent a full spectrum of radar, infrared (IR) and visual threats. Because of its lower operating costs, the M-40 was able to provide the same level of training as previous exercises at a significantly reduced cost.

Alongside the M-40, Leonardo continues to offer the Mirach 100/5, which shares a ground control station with the new M-40 and can imitate the highest-performance threats facing armed forces. During the Italian Navy exercise, the Mirach 100/5 was employed to simulate a missile attack against the naval vessels, allowing the crew to train with SM1 and Aster 15 missiles.

In addition to providing the Mirach 100/5 for a number of export customers, Leonardo has operated the target drone for 20 years under a managed service arrangement for the Italian Armed Forces. The new M-40, which has 60 minutes endurance, is now being used to supplement this capability.

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact