Leonardo has secured a 10-year contract to deliver continued combat air mission data management services to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).

Placed via the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support body and announced on 25 April, the award covers work to “develop, support and future-proof the tools which generate and analyse data used by the UK’s combat aircraft”.

This will include “drawing on AI [artificial intelligence] and machine learning to automate parts of the process” of analysing large quantities of data, the company says.

RAF Typhoon

Source: Crown Copyright

Leonardo already delivers mission data support services for RAF Typhoons

“Effective mission data dramatically increases the survivability of a combat aircraft by fine-tuning every sensor to the actual situation on the battlefield,” Leonardo says. “This equips pilots with the ability to react swiftly to threats with the most effective countermeasures,” it adds.

The RAF currently employs Leonardo’s Horus data generation and analysis system at its Eurofighter Typhoon main operating base at Coningsby in Lincolnshire. The company also is partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence to run the Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Centre at nearby RAF Waddington.

Leonardo says its new award will enable it to “continue to upgrade the [mission data] tool sets in response to the evolving demands of modern combat missions, [and] support the next generation of combat aircraft”.

This will include supporting the company’s so-called integrated sensing and non-kinetic effects and integrated communication system, which will be employed by a future manned platform to be developed via the Global Combat Air Programme venture between Italy, Japan and the UK. Service entry for the “sixth-generation” type is expected during 2035.