Leonardo readies RAF to handle Future Combat Air mission data in new 10-year contract

Source: Leonardo

Leonardo has been awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD)’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) agency to supply, develop and future proof the tools which generate and analyse data used by the UK Armed Forces’ combat aircraft. The contract covers the next 10 years, extending the close partnership between Leonardo and the MOD’s Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Centre (JEWOSC), based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

 

Pilots consider mission data to be as essential as fuel during combat operations. Effective mission data dramatically increases the survivability of a combat aircraft by fine-tuning every sensor to the actual situation on the battlefield. This includes the locations and types of threats fielded by the enemy. That fine-tuning equips pilots with the ability to react swiftly to threats with the most effective countermeasures, keeping them out of harm’s way.

 

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The RAF already employs Leonardo’s data generation and analysis tool set (called HORUS) at the Eurofighter Typhoon Mission Support Centre at RAF Coningsby as well as the JEWOSC at RAF Waddington to ensure that Typhoons and other military aircraft are loaded with up-to-date mission data. The new contract will see Leonardo continue to upgrade the tool sets in response to the evolving demands of modern combat missions, as well as enabling them to support the next generation of combat aircraft. The upgraded toolsets will be built upon the new Leonardo NEXIS architecture, which will also be available to all export customers.

 

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One of Leonardo’s objectives will be to make it quicker and less labour intensive to refresh mission data, enabling updates between missions while maintaining a high level of assurance. Leonardo will be drawing on AI and machine learning to automate parts of the process, quickly crunching large quantities of data to produce new data sets.

This contract will future proof mission data tools to benefit next-generation aircraft. The upcoming aircraft being developed by the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) and which the RAF will fly from 2035, will gather vast amounts of data through its unique ISANKE (Integrated Sensing and Non-Kinetic Effects) and ICS (Integrated Communications System). Upgraded mission data tools will be needed to both update the ISANKE system and analyse, sort and interpret the large quantities of data being captured by these types of advanced sensors.

 

 

Leonardo’s Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) centre of excellence in Lincoln, UK will lead the delivery of the new contract and will draw on company-wide expertise in airborne protection. Leonardo provides the survivability equipment for the Eurofighter Typhoon, as well as the UK Armed Forces’ AW159 Wildcat, AW101 Merlin and Apache AH-64E helicopters. Leonardo is acting as the UK and Italian leads for the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP)’s ISANKE & ICS domain, which will provide the new aircraft with mission-critical information and advanced self-protection capabilities.

 

 

As a core member of Team Pellonia, the UK industry-MOD partnership for Next Generation Air Survivability (NGAS) systems, Leonardo is also working to deliver protection systems for the RAF’s Shadow R2 intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) fleets. All of these platforms will benefit from the new tool sets.

 

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