Sky Eye Systems Srl, a company of the OMA Foligno SpA Group, in December 2022 signed with the General Secretariat of Defence, National Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA) the Contract for the supply of Rapier X-25 UAV systems to all ‘Italian army. In detail, these are two systems, each equipped with three aircraft.
The Contract has a total value of nine million euros and also includes integrated logistic support services and theoretical and practical training for the duration of two years plus an optional one.
The X-25 Rapier System was conceived by adopting the most advanced aeronautical design methods, in compliance with NATO Standard STANAG 4703.
The Rapier boasts top-in-the-class EO/IR sensors intended for Intelligence-Surveillance-Target Acquisition-Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions and is the only RPAS on the market in the Mini class under 25 kg of Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) to have obtained from the DAAA, on 27 October 2022, the Certificate of Type (Airworthiness) without any limitation for the population density of third parties overflown.
In November and December 2022, test flights were carried out for the experimentation of the new Rapier X-VTOL configuration which shares 70% of the technological solutions and components of the Rapier X-25 , thus allowing a drastic reduction of the ” Time to Market”, of the development costs and the effort required to certify the new version of the aircraft as well.
The Terrestrial version has endothermic gasoline propulsion and electric motors for the VTOL function equipped with high redundancies and resistance to lateral wind gusts. It is also equipped with an electric motor with a pulling propeller which allows the climb and descent rate of the aircraft to be doubled in special operations that require high performance, furthermore cruising flight with only the electric motor is permitted for low impact ground approaches acoustic, this is particularly useful in hostile operating theaters.
The Light Marina version features hybrid propulsion: electric for the vertical take-off and landing phases, and an internal combustion engine with pusher propeller for horizontal flight, which uses JP5 fuel, to allow its use on ships and marine platforms. In this marine version, the bow thruster allows precision landings by reversing the direction of rotation. It has an operating range of 100 km and an autonomy of 5 to 11 hours depending on the mission. It mounts EO/IR sensors and other optional payloads such as Hyperspectral, Lidar, IFF, SIGINT and also SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) sensors, thanks to the extreme flexibility and modularity of the payload bay.
The RAPIER X-25 Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) designed by the company SKY EYE SYSTEMS Srl has been certified by the DAAA (Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness), in accordance with the AER (EP) standard. P-2 Em. 1 dated 08 May 2013. The result is of significant importance as it is the only military certification granted in Italy and Europe without limitations regarding the population density overflown for the MINI RPAS 25 kg class. In this respect the Rapier is superior to products of the same class made in the USA.
The System, being in full compliance with the NATO STANAG 4703 standard, has obtained a Type Certification which allows it to operate without limitations thanks to design and architectural choices, such as for example having implemented dissimilar triple redundancies as well as Recovery and return to a “safe” point downstream of the first failure of an inertial platform or following a blockage of one of the control surfaces which does not affect the controllability of the aircraft.
The achievement of this objective was possible thanks to the close collaboration between the DAAA and the Company which made it possible to optimize the design and construction choices according to the strict criteria adopted for higher class machines.
The fixed-wing aircraft has a wingspan of 3.65 m and a maximum take-off weight of 25 kg, is equipped with a high-performance EO/IR sensor and will be used for ISTAR ( Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaisance) missions), can be used for the training of pilots and operators of higher class aircraft (LIGHT and TACTICAL). In fact, the Rapier with its flight performance and sensors, the fifth generation GCS, with automatic and semi-automatic flight modes, would allow pilots and operators to achieve a high “training effectiveness”, before moving onto the operating machines with considerable savings in terms of time and costs. The system is equipped with a proprietary Flight Control System (FCS), whose SW was developed and certified in accordance with RTCA Safety Critical DO178C DAL B guidelines. The Ground Control Station (GCS) of the Rapier X-25, which also complies with the DAL B level of the RTCA DO178C, consists of two stations, one for Command and Control (C2), the other for sensor management. The pneumatic launcher, optimized in terms of weight and performance, allows a reliable take-off of the aircraft, even in non-ideal atmospheric conditions (low/high temperature, presence of humidity and/or wind).
The LOS-type communication system allows command and control and data/video transmission up to 90 km away between the aircraft and the GCS (BVLOS, Beyond Visual Line Of Site).
The Rapier X-25 is also already in use by the Air Force, with which a contract has been stipulated for the supply of Integrated Logistics Support for the years 2022 and 2023, including training for pilots, sensor operators, maintenance technicians, spare materials, adherence support with Company technicians, for a total of 600 flight hours, to carry out both scheduled (Technical Level 1, 2 and 3) and unscheduled maintenance operations.
The system is being evaluated by other Italian and foreign Armed Forces as well as by Civil Entities such as Fire Brigade, Regions, etc.
In the Italian industrial panorama, Sky Eye Systems, certified by the DAAA through the release of the MDOA (Military Design Organization Approval), holds aeronautical skills and high-level know-how for a complete domain of technologies aimed at design, prototyping, production and support Logistics of Certified Unmanned aircraft.
To guarantee Product quality and Customer Satisfaction, all the enabling technologies supporting the design and evolution of the produced systems are mastered and developed internally in Sky Eye Systems through a highly qualified team of Technicians and Engineers.