Leonardo has announced that it has signed a multi-million Euro contract with prime contractor QinetiQ to provide a number of PicoSAR Active Electronically Scanned Array radars. 

The radars will equip the new unmanned Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft that have been ordered by the Canadian Armed Forces.

Designed and manufactured by Leonardo in Edinburgh, UK, PicoSAR will be employed by Canadian military units at sea and on land, for both domestic and international operations.

The company said:

“It is ideally suited for installation aboard the Canadian Armed Forces new system, which is based on the lightweight UMS Skeldar V-200 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). With PicoSAR on-board, operators will benefit from a range of modes including high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging and Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI).

Together, these will deliver an effective all-weather ground mapping and surveillance capability for ISTAR missions.”

The radar has been flown in Oceania, the Far East, the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, North America and South America and has been acquired by more than 10 customers, say the firm.

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Brochure here if anyone is interested…


< 1m resolution and weighs 10kg. Looks impressive.


Doesn’t 1m (I assume when they say less than they mean only just less) resolution seem a bit high for a ground tracking radar, considering the sizes of things you would want to track on the ground.


I was thinking more of maritime uses where 6 hours endurance) to have sufficient payload to carry this, necessary optical targeting and laser designator, and a couple of LMM. That would make a River B2 with single or dual containerised camcopter UAV(s) on board a significantly more threatening presence for pirates, drug runners etc when its doing those sort of policing activities. In routine surveillance mode it could not be carrying the 26kg of LMM (13kg each) but if necessary could do so at the expense of endurance. Even with 2 LMM on board though it would probably have a… Read more »


Realistically the navy is never going to fire missiles at pirates, as it would be front page news of horror stories of the navy murdering pirates. Policing is about arresting or prevent crime, not blowing people up. With river classes designed to operate close to shore, some form of land attack missile might be more useful, as it could then provide a degree of close air support to any special forces mission that the river could launch, although 1 or 2 missiles is unlikely to be a game changer. The challenge will be range, which will always be the problem… Read more »


Thanks. I stand corrected. Every day’s a school day! On the lighter missile, what are your thoughts on the free-fall/glide-bomb variant of LMM (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightweight_Multirole_Missile) at 5.8kg? For use against slower-moving targets obviously but something like a machine gun nest presumably isn’t going anywhere fast? Also in the land-attack role, what are your thoughts on VLS SPEAR 3? That doesn’t exist yet as far as I’m aware but was at least sufficiently on the radar at one point for MBDA to create renders and I believe even a physical model displayed at at least one trade show (I’m pretty sure I’ve… Read more »


I was thinking the same thing about glide options, although i am no expert and don’t know if the slower speed of a helicopter / lower height would mean they are not viable. I guess you could have a booster to get some speed then glide. As you said most targets would not be fast moving and so a slow ish glide could be effective. I keep thinking that UAV are the answer to low intensity warfare where speed and range of a helicopter makes a ship way more effective, especially as this is now the main calling of the… Read more »


The Skeldar or the Leonardo Hero are a very interesting capability. Multiple uses beyond ISTAR. Much more so than the smaller, and more limited CamCopter from Schiebel. Both could mount a small winch and deploy a Sonobuoy like a mini dipping sonar. Put a couple up with a Merlin (control them from the Merlin or T23/26) and you could dramatically increase ASW effectiveness, whilst also reducing the need to use disposable sonobuoys in such large numbers, which are a finite item. In a full shooting war the use of sonobuoys would be colossal, anything we can do to stop our… Read more »

Rob Collinson

Why on earth have the RN not invested in the https://umsskeldar.aero/our-products/rpas-systems/v-200-skeldar/ which can run this system? It seems a no-brainer. It can be be stored and run from a container. It is ideal to run from a Destroyer or Frigate and seems to be ideal from the QE carriers – as the current configuration does not allow for fixed-wing versions we operate (like Watchkeeper or the Reaper/Protector B).