Warplanes: Falco Hustles


August 29, 2016: The Italian firm (Selex ES) that introduced the Falco UAV in 2009 has developed a larger model; the Falco EVO. The original Falco is a 420 kg (924 pound) aircraft with a 68.2 kg (150 pound) payload. Ceiling is 5,000 meters, but it usually operates at lower altitudes (2,000 meters). Endurance is up to 14 hours but typical missions are 6-8 hours. Max speed is 210 kilometers an hour, although it usually cruises at 150. Falco can be up to 200 kilometers from its ground station. The UAV can take off and land on an air strip or use a catapult for takeoff and parachute for takeoff and landing. About sixty Falco UAVs have already been purchased by Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and the UN (for peacekeeping and foreign aid support). Europe is trying to be competitive in the UAV market, which is currently dominated by Israel (the pioneer), the United States (with the most combat experience) and China (the aggressive and inexpensive contender). Falco is one of the few European UAVs to find any market at all.

Falco EVO is about a third larger that Falco and has a 100 kg (220 pound) payload, 20 percent higher ceiling and 40 percent more endurance. This enables Falco EVO to use more powerful sensors (like radars and electronic monitoring gear), Falco EVO uses the same ground control equipment as the original Falco and, like Falco, sold in systems consisting of a ground control system, maintenance equipment and four UAVs. The manufacturer hopes to see at least twice as many Falco EVOs sold while continuing to offer the original Falco. The first two customers for EVO are already users of the original Falco. The manufacturer refuses to sell armed Falcos but does provide laser designators for them.


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