ROME — A new 24-hour-endurance drone built by Italy’s Leonardo has made its maiden flight in trials run in cooperation with the Italian Air Force, the firm said.

The Falco Xplorer, an evolution of earlier Falco models, flew for 60 minutes from Trapani Air Base in Sicily on Jan. 15 in a dedicated flying area before landing safely, Leonardo reported.

First launched last year at the Paris Air Show, the Xplorer offers a maximum payload of 350kg, a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 tons, and it can operate above 24,000 feet.

The Italian firm is offering the drone with its Gabbiano T-80 radar, SAGE electronic-intelligence system, an electro-optical turret and a hyperspectral sensor for monitoring pollution and agriculture.

Aimed at both civilian and military customers, the Xplorer will feature satellite navigation, while pending flight tests will aim to certify the aircraft to NATO’S STANAG 4671 standard.

In its statement, Leonardo said the Xplorer was not subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions, making it widely available for export around the world.

The drone is the third evolution in the Falco family, which includes the Falco and the larger Falco EVO, which offers 15 hours endurance.

Before its launch last year, Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo said the Xplorer will “overlap with the Predator A - it would be a new product for Predator A customers.”

The UN and the European Union’s frontier protection agency Frontex are among existing customers of the Falco, while national customers are thought to be Jordan, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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