Skydweller aims to build a fully electric system designed to fly unlimited distances and accomodate large payloads in support of land and maritime monitoring, emergency response, precision navigation, infrastructure surveillance and telecommunication missions, Leonardo said Monday.
As part of the agreement, the Italy-based conglomerate's aircraft division will support development efforts at Skydweller's facility in Spain and serve as prime contractor for potential business opportunities within Italy, U.K. Poland and NATO member countries.
Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo said the investment is part of a push to expand the company's work on aircraft materials, power systems, autonomous technology, aerostructures and other environmentally-friendly offerings.
Profumo added the company aims to build up its position in the aerospace market over the next two decades.
Skydweller expects to commence autonomous flights of an optionally-piloted vehicle in 2020 and complete a production model of an unmanned OPV version by 2021.