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Royal Air Force receives first ORCUS counter UAS system

ORCUS C-UAS system
Photo: Leonardo

The Royal Air Force has taken delivery of the first of four complete baseline counter-drone systems from defense contractor Leonardo.

The ORCUS system is now playing a key role in a wide-ranging testing and evaluation campaign which will improve the Air Force’s understanding of how it can employ technology in response to the threat posed by hostile drones.

The RAF will also maintain the ORCUS system as an upgraded national standby capability, to be rapidly deployed anywhere in the country in support of emergency services in the event of a drone-based crisis.

Managed by Defence Equipment & Support’s Future Capability Group, using technology delivered by Leonardo, the C-UAS study is considered of high importance to national security and a means of further protecting UK main operating bases.

The modular systems provided by Leonardo for the study will allow the RAF to evaluate a range of capabilities including advanced radar, electro-optic and radio frequency sensors and an electronic attack countermeasure. In due course, further systems will be integrated for testing and evaluation.

“Project Synergia is delivering the Orcus R&D system hardware through the Future Capabilities Group (FCG) within DE&S and involves a close partnership between the prime contractor, Leonardo UK, the FCG, Air Capability and the RAF FP Force,” RAF Wing Commander Rob Wilson said.

“This project is facilitating the rapid development of the knowledge necessary to define future capability to protect RAF sites and assets and, as a result, is supporting the development of world-leading understanding of counter-UAS technologies within UK defense.”

Elements of Leonardo’s C-UAS equipment were previously operated by the RAF Force Protection Force in 2018 and 2019, following drone sightings at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.