After more than a year of anticipation, Leonardo unveiled a concept model of its Proteus rotary-wing unmanned aerial system (RWUAS) during a recent defense expo in London.
The drone features a single main rotor and a design that “highlights conceptual maturity and modularity.”
The two- to three-ton class Proteus can support intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance, and logistics delivery.
The final design will still depend on potential systems to be integrated into the state-of-the-art drone.
Leonardo plans to fly the RWUAS “in the middle of this decade.”
Leonardo and @DefenceHQ are pleased to unveil a mature concept of the Rotary Wing Uncrewed Air System (RWUAS) technology demonstrator, known as project 'Proteus' by the British Armed Forces, at #DSEI23. https://t.co/UAp99MY5Br pic.twitter.com/HwLfwR5jHf
— Leonardo Helicopters (@LDO_Helicopters) September 13, 2023
Ensuring Mission Flexibility
The development of the Proteus RWUAS is part of a $72-million contract awarded by UK Defence Equipment and Support in July 2022.
The task was to design an uncrewed helicopter demonstrator capable of tracking enemy submarines.
Leonardo said the mission systems and modules integrated into the state-of-the-art drone also make it flexible enough to support land missions.
“Uncrewed VTOL [vertical takeoff and landing] aircraft will transform military capability whilst also having application in other market sectors, both in the UK and around the world,” company director Adam Clarke said.
The Proteus will be operated by the Royal Navy’s Future Maritime Aviation Force.