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Italian Air Force To Acquire Leonardo Astore Armed UAS

The Leonardo Astore with the Cirit launcher installed under the wing. (Photo: Unknown author via RID)

Astore is a further development of the well-known Falco UAS, equipped with the Turkish-made Cirit 70mm laser guided rockets.

According to reports, the Italian Air Force requested the Parliament’s approval for the acquisition of four Leonardo Astore armed UASs and two ground stations. This has been considered as an urgent measure that will act as gap filler until the MQ-9A Block 5 entry into service, expected by 2025.

The Italian Air Force recently received the first of two new MQ-9A Block 5 and is also upgrading the five Block 1 aircraft currently in service to the same configuration. The Block 5 RPA provides a significant increase in capabilities and is also expected to be armed, as mentioned in the Italian Defense Planning in the last few years.

However, the introduction of the new capabilities takes time and that’s why the service turned to Leonardo to request the Astore UAS, which is already in service with some foreign operators. Astore is the latest platform developed from the proven Falco EVO UAS, which in turn was first introduced in 2012 as improvement of the original Falco presented in 2003.

Thanks to the addition of two underwing pylons, the Astore can carry a weapon payload of 70 kg, consisting of Turkish-made Cirit 70 mm laser guided rockets. The UAS has an endurance of 16 hours and an operational range in excess of 200 km, man in the loop systems to manage the engagement chain, laser targeting system capable of performing also buddy lasing, and automated battle damage assessment.

Astore retains Falco EVOs characteristics, with a maximum takeoff weight of 650 kg, fully automated flight, multimodal surveillance radar, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) system, electronic support measures (ESM), communication intelligence (COMINT) systems and multiple radios.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

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