Here at the Defence Services Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London, Italian aerospace and defense company, Finmeccanica have an elaborate stand showing the areas of capability from helicopters, electronics and naval radar to name but a few.
But one of the most eye-catching elements of the display is this image, entitled RWUAS, which shows an unmanned helicopter carrying out a range of tasks around the battlefields depicted on the stand including lifting under slung loads, and conducting intelligence gathering missions.
Company officials say the aircraft is simply an artist’s impression and, of course, it is possible that the aircraft is simply a figment of a designer’s imagination, but more often than not, such designs are often based in reality.
AgustaWestland has secured a £2.4 million U.K. defense ministry contract to develop a rotary-wing UAS concept for ship-borne operations and the company is understood to be using the PZL-Swidnik-built SW-4 Solo for the Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) program. The company revealed a plan to develop an unmanned SW-4 at the MSPO show in Poland back in 2012.
Any machine adapted for the UAS role is going to be heavily modified, and that can be clearly seen in the image. But the image shown on the stand is certainly not based on an SW-4 and, although it bears a similarity to the company’s new AW169, that aircraft would be too large for a potential RWUAS role. Indeed the tail boom design does not match any current product in the AgustaWestland family line or those that we currently know of. The company is developing a single-engined 2.5 tonne helicopter in conjunction with Russian Helicopters, major agreements for the development of which were signed at the Moscow MAKS airshow last month.
A 2.5 tonne helicopter would of course be a reasonable size for such an aircraft.