Skydweller Aero has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Luxembourg’s Minister of Defence and Leonardo to explore opportunities for future cooperation involving its solar-powered drone.

The new agreement will initially see Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence assist the transportation of the aircraft from Albacete, Spain, to the Caribbean for its long-endurance flight testing and demonstration activities, in support of Skydweller Aero’s contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to demonstrate zero-emission, long-endurance flight for defence applications.

Ultra-persistent endurance

The solar-powered, fully electric unmanned aircraft system, which is capable of carrying large and heavy payloads over long-distances with ultra-persistent endurance, is currently undergoing development by Skydweller Aero, a US/European start-up.

Leonardo is a strategic investor in Skydweller and the company’s primary industrial partner. Leonardo serves as the prime contractor for Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence with regards to Skydweller.

The objective of the partnership is to accelerate the development and demonstration of the first mission-capable, solar-powered, autonomous aircraft.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

“This partnership demonstrates the shared vision between Skydweller and Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence in the development of the Skydweller platform to bring this mission-capable, sustainable ISR [Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platform to US DoD and its allies,” said Skydweller CEO Robert Miller. “We are extremely grateful to Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence for their important contribution to this effort.”

“The Skydweller platform is an innovative project in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) framework where the Luxembourg Defence has been operating in the Land, Air and Space domain since decades. This project is perfectly in line with the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence’s ambition to decarbonise the military, to reduce military emissions and fossil fuel dependency and thus to reduce the carbon footprint of the sector,” said Luxembourg’s minister of defence, François Bausch.

New class of capabilities

“Leonardo has a long heritage of building and equipping manned and unmanned ISR platforms and intends to bring a new class of persistent and sustainable capabilities to such a critical domain.” Laurent Sissmann, Senior Vice President Unmanned Systems at Leonardo commented.

“As a strategic and industrial partner of Skydweller, we are delighted to count on the support of the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence and the experience of the Luxembourg Defence in ISR related matters for the research and development and flight-test campaign of such a breakthrough capability as Skydweller.”
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