Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971


Leonardo Provides Excellence in the Sky

The 25th anniversary of IDEX will be an occasion for Leonardo to celebrate and renew its long-term partnership with the UAE. Nation Shield met Marco Buratti, Leonardo’s Senior Vice President for International Marketing and Strategic Campaigns, who discussed the company’s plans for the show and shed light on Leonardo’s latest-generation of helicopters. He said: “It’s always a pleasure to speak with Nation Shield. Leonardo’s technologies have been employed in the UAE since the earliest years of the Union, and most of that equipment is still in service, or has been replaced with upgraded versions. I’d like to highlight the SF-260 and the Aermacchi MB.339 trainer aircraft, which today equip both the Al Fursan aerobatic display team and the Italian Frecce Tricolori aerobatic display team. These are probably the two most extraordinary examples of excellence in the sky.” Excerpts from the interview:
Which are the other Leonardo technologies operating in the region? 
Leonardo naval technologies, for example integrated naval systems for combat management, naval radars and fire control systems, are on board of many Navy vessels. Most of the ships are equipped with Leonardo OTO naval guns as their primary and secondary armaments, including the HITROLE RWS 12,7mm, Marlin WS 3. I should also add that a substantial per cent of the rotorcraft fleet in this region are Leonardo helicopters: there are more than 100 in the country.
What are the factors behind your leadership position in this market segment?
The executive/VIP market covers a wide range of applications including private and corporate transport, charter and scheduled services, VVIP and Head of State/Government transport duties. These uses require advanced capabilities, high performance and comfort. For government transport, the customer may want to have self-defence suites embedded alongside encrypted communications for secure flights. Here is where Leonardo plays a leading role globally, controlling a 50 per cent share of the multiengine executive/VIP helicopter market. 
In the region, Leonardo has announced orders for more than 280 latest-generation helicopters. What are they mainly being used for? 
Orders in the Middle East region are fairly well representative of the varied range of helicopters offered by Leonardo. The AW109, AW139, AW169, AW189, NH90, and Super Lynx 300 helicopters cover a wide spectrum of civil, government and military roles including offshore and the previously mentioned VIP transport, as well as law enforcement, SAR/EMS, utility and patrol. Our bestseller, the AW139 has generated over 140 sales in the Middle East, nearly 70 of these in the UAE. The leading operator of this model, Abu Dhabi Aviation, uses AW139s mainly for offshore transport purposes. Falcon Aviation has been operating Grand and GrandNew light twin helicopters for passenger transport missions and also has two all new AW169 light intermediate helicopters on order, with the world’s first offshore-configured AW169 now in service, and two AW189 offshore super medium aircraft in operation. Our first AW189 in VIP configuration was also sold in the region.
The Family’s AW169, AW139 and AW189 models have seen significant success in the Middle East, with over 160 helicopters ordered by major operators, most of which are already in service. The Air Wing and the Air Force also use AW139s to perform utility and transport operations, Joint Aviation Command uses the same model for search and rescue missions, while the Abu Dhabi Police operates the same type for law enforcement duties. For after-sale support, Abu Dhabi Aviation has been an authorised Service Centre since 2005, through the AgustaWestland Aviation Services LLC joint venture established in late 2011 to carry out a range of services and activities for the sale of helicopter spare parts and accessories, helicopter/component repair and overhaul, customisation, modification and upgrade. This is a perfect example of Leonardo partnering with in-country players to meet customer service requirements locally.
What Leonardo will focus on at IDEX/NAVDEX 2019?
A significant number of our leading products are being exhibited and marketed at this major regional defence event, taken from across our land, air and naval portfolios. One of the focuses will be on our Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) technology. What happened in London recently, with Gatwick and Heathrow airports blocked for hours because of drone sightings, is something that could easily happen anywhere in the world. The cost of small drones is falling every day, making them easy to be acquire and easy to deploy. Answering the need for safe and secure airspace, including in the cases of major events, Leonardo has developed C-UAS capabilities, which are already operational with the Armed Forces of Italy and the UK and are also available to be quickly and easily deployed in a civilian context all over the world. 
So, Leonardo has a product capable to stop drones attacks?
Yes, but there is more to it than that. It’s not possible to think about C-UAS as having a single solution, because threats and locations vary. Leonardo offers an integrated platform to provide a scalable C-UAV system solution. It enables the selection and integration of an appropriate sensor and effector mix that fits the specific scenario, operator and situation to deliver the best response to the threat. At IDEX, we will have the chance to go deeper into detail with visitors who are interested. 
Other focuses will include the Fighter Attack version of the M-346, which is able to switch from a trainer to a fighter attack aircraft with simple equipment add on, without the need for changing airplane hardware, and the new Leonardo basic-advanced jet trainer M-345, which will both replace the Italian Air Force MB.339 from 2020 and become the Italian Air Force aerobatic team’s new aircraft. We were pleased to announce last December that the first production M-345 aircraft has successfully performed its maiden flight. 
We’re also very excited to be presenting a range of our most advanced airborne sensors and protection technology, all of it readily exportable to the Middle East region. People who are knowledgeable about the domain will have noticed that Saab’s new GlobalEye aircraft, which has been selected by the UAE, is equipped with a Leonardo AESA radar. At IDEX, we’ll be exhibiting our Osprey AESA radar, which combines high performance with ultra-competitive levels of reliability and cost-of-ownership. Protective capabilities such as the world-leading BriteCloud Expendable Active Decoy and Miysis Directed Infrared Counter-Measure (DIRCM) will also be on display. A customer in the Middle East has already selected Miysis. 
What about NAVDEX?
Of course, we will be taking the opportunity presented by NAVDEX to promote our excellence in the naval field, for example highlighting our DART (Driven Ammunition Reduced Time-of-flight) guided ammunition, which can be re-directed during flight. We’ll also be promoting the UK Royal Navy’s AW159 multirole naval helicopter, which has the most modern integrated cockpit of any naval helicopter and a fully integrated avionics suite and mission system to provide increased mission capability and increased crew effectiveness.
At the stand, a scale model of a multi-role ship’s bridge will be on show, supported by our innovative ‘naval cockpit’, where visitors will be able to learn about the workings of a fully-integrated naval operations and combat system. Above all, I am sure our guests will appreciate being able to see a wide range of our technologies on board the Italian Navy’s ITS Carlo Margottini, a European Multi-mission Frigate (FREMM), which is visiting the NAVDEX exhibition this year. ITS Margottini is an anti-submarine warfare unit and is equipped with systems designed, produced and integrated by Leonardo. 

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