Leonardo, the rebranded Finmeccanica, remains committed to the UK, despite the loss of major defence contract to rival Boeing.
The company was handed a snub as the Farnborough air show opened, when it was announced it had been frozen out of a deal to renew the British Army’s fleet of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in favour of a direct acquisition from Boeing.
Leonardo chief executive Mauro Moretti says it continues to talk to the Ministry of Defence and Boeing about “what the role is for the Yeovil facility” and remains hopeful that sustainment of the new fleet will be performed at the site.
He points to a separate agreement with the MoD which extends the “strategic partner” status of Leonardo’s helicopter division for another 10 years. As part of this, the “MoD will finance the development of unmanned rotorcraft for the future”, he says.
Speaking earlier in the day, defence procurement minister Philip Dunne said the government was “looking to work with [Leonardo] on innovative solutions for rotary opportunities for the future”.
He declines to speculate on the eventual location of AH-64E sustainment, but says he is “pleased” that Boeing and Leonardo have been in talks. “Both companies have a major role in sustaining the existing model of the Apache, and we’ll see where that goes in the future,” he says.
Moretti describes the UK as a “domestic market”, and also sees no “significant effect in the short-term” from the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union.
“As an international business we are very used to working under complex and changing scenarios and we will monitor the evolution of a process that looks very unclear at the moment,” he says.
Source: Flight Daily News