GUAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or UASs (Unmanned Aerial System), are engine-powered aircraft systems that do not carry a human pilot, that can fly autonomously or be flown remotely by an operator at a control station, while transporting a lethal (weapons, chemical substances) or a non-lethal cargo (sensors, cameras).
They offer a number of relevant advantages in comparison to pilot-flown aircrafts:
The possibility of being used in so-called dull missions (boring and long-lasting surveillance and patrol missions) dirty missions (hazardous missions for pilots’ safety), dangerous missions (life-endangering missions);
- Reduction of investments in the field;
- Reduction of fuel consumption and consequent reduction of CO2 emissions;
- Reduction of risks and costs associated to the loss of human lives.
Interest towards UAV-UASs has grown enormously in the last twenty years and it has been greatly advanced by the modifications necessary to the fighting strategies required by the war on terror. Its enormous potential, its success in military missions, as well as the progress made in the field of micro and nano-technologies are pushing both industries and universities to develop various UASs that are more modern, reliable and that can be used in a number of different civil and military missions. There are many European countries (Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain) as well as non-European countries (United States, China, Russia and Israel) that have understood the social, political and economical benefits that might derive from a crescent use of such systems in different kinds of missions.
At the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA), the most important aerospace event of 2010, held at Farnborough (London), from 19th to 25th July 2010, Faentia Consulting has been able to see how the world of UAS is in a state of ferment and evolution. On show at Farnborough were many splendid UAS models different in potential and size, such as the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye by Boeing, the Predator by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the Global Hawk by Northrop Grumman, the Shadow by AAI Textron Systems, the Talarion developed by EADS, the Sky-X and the Sky-Y by Alenia Aeronautica and the Falco by Selex Galileo.
In Italy many companies are working hard to gain a stake of the UAS market. In the industrial field systems such as the Falco are worth noticing, as it satisfies the most important requirements of civil and military surveillance, is particularly suitable for homeland security missions and has been quite successful abroad. Also interesting are the Sky-X and the diesel-powered Sky-Y.
In the university and cultural world many initiatives are also being carried out by single research groups aimed at developing new systems as well as at testing new technologies. Finally in the military field Italy is one of the few countries that have already used such technologies in action in Iraq and Afghanistan for instance.
Although a lot has been done, in Italy both effort co-ordination and targeted well-timed investment planning are still lacking. In order to try and define the situation and its problems in connection with the use of UASs and to relay different institutions belonging to the cultural and industrial fields, on December 2nd 2010 the seminar “Focus on the Dual Use of UASs” has been held within the Italy Airspace Expo at the Rome Fair, organized by the Centro Studi Militari Aeronautici (CESMA) of the Associazione Arma Aeronautica.
From the seminar, during which different protagonists have spoken (Institutions, Army, State Police, Civil Defence, Research Centers, Universities, ENAC – National Civil Aviation Organization) and companies such as Alenia Aeronautica and Selex Galileo, Avio, the following need has emerged: that a synergic process should be set up to create a SYSTEM among all the protagonists of the field, in the same way as in other countries, in order to avoid a waste of efforts and resources and to allow Italy to get a main role in the UAS market. This market in fact as the newspaper Il Mondo, writes ”is worth at the moment about 7 billion dollars and it will grow to 14 bln. in 2020 and to 45 bln. in 2030, based on the most moderate forecasts”. Faentia Consulting fully agrees with the message emerged from the seminar and really hopes that such a system might be set up in the future.