Uncrewed Systems Technology 049 - April/May 2023

58 S ince its founding in Rome, Italy, in 1994, Eurolink Systems has been known primarily as a value-added distributor and integrator of mission-critical electronics for defence applications. Its customers include companies such as Leonardo, MBDA and Elettronica Group, along with other defence firms such as Thales. In recent years it has also been drawing attention for its growing range of uncrewed vehicles that undertakemissions across land and in the air, by reselling other companies’ systems and developing autonomous solutions in-house. As well as drawing on its own electronics r&d, including expertise in DSPs, GPUs, FPGAs, CPUs and power management boards, Eurolink has also worked with universities on r&d into advanced fluid dynamics, AI and other areas. This combination of skills has been key to developing the Beluga UAV, Eurolink’s signature quadrotor craft for modular, multi-mission applications. The Beluga measures 980 x 630 x 450 mm, has a 10 kg MTOW (with 3 kg maximum payload), and an endurance of up to 60 minutes when carrying 1.5 kg of payload. Power comes from a 3.8 kg lithium-ion battery with 1 kWh of energy capacity. The craft is notable for its distinctive hull shape, as it closely resembles a Beluga whale. While this provides some aesthetic appeal, the unique shape is a result of Eurolink’s approach to enhancing the UAV through bio-inspired aerodynamics. Development timeline Before starting development of the Beluga, Eurolink had established itself as a supplier to European militaries of US-manufactured electronics from numerous companies. That won it a contract in 2011 with the Carabinieri, one of Italy’s main law enforcement agencies, and which carries out primarily domestic and foreign policing duties. After that, it agreed partnerships with several uncrewed systems companies, such as Slovenian UAS manufacturer C-Astral Aerospace (see UST 11, December 2016/January 2017), to distribute its Bramor and Atlas UAVs; this agreement has been extended to include sales of C-Astral’s new SQA eVTOL UAV. Another deal is with Edge Autonomy, which makes the Penguin series of UAVs Head start April/May 2023 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The Beluga whale, with its distinctive bulbous head, is the inspiration for this modular, multi-mission UAV. Rory Jackson reports