In a first: Italian Navy uses new M-40 target drones in carrier protection exercise

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The Italian Navy recently used the new Leonardo-developed M-40 target drones in an exercise involving the aircraft carrier ITS Cavour and Durand de la Penne-class destroyer ITS Francesco Mimbelli.

The exercise saw the aircraft carrier and its complement of AV8B+ fighter aircraft training alongside the destroyer against M-40 drones which were simulating a range of incoming threats.

During the exercise, the M-40 played the part of a missile to simulate an attack against the Italian naval vessels and separately acted as a hostile enemy fighter in air-to-air combat scenarios.

During these missions, the navy personnel were able to ‘shoot down’ the reusable drones in realistic scenarios, allowing them to train with weapon systems including Aspide missiles.

Leonardo owns and operates the M-40 on behalf of the Italian Armed Forces, under a managed service arrangement with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).

This exercise was the first set of missions to make use of the M-40, which is able to represent a full spectrum of radar, infrared (IR) and visual threats.

Alongside the M-40, Leonardo continues to offer the Mirach 100/5, which shares a ground control station with the new M-40. During the exercise, the Mirach 100/5 was employed to simulate a missile attack against the naval vessels, allowing the crew to train with SM1 and Aster 15 missiles.

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