Leonardo sets its sights on defence capabilities and business expansion

Leonardo and Selex

Land and naval defence electronics company Leonardo is looking to secure more defence opportunities within Australia.

Speaking to Phillip Tarrant of Defence Connect’s podcast, executive chairman of Leonardo Australia Michael Lenton said the company has positioned themselves well for upcoming naval projects like SEA 5000.

"We’ve been vetting into all the opportunities that have presented themselves to us – SEA 1654 and particularly SEA 1180, which is currently being responded to by the down selected ship designers. So we’ve contributed to that in terms of a bid and obviously we’re positioning ourselves for the SEA 5000," Lenton said.

"SEA 5000 represents for us a natural development, as does SEA 1180, a natural development of the new capabilities we have in Australia, particularly the communications capabilities which is now established under SEA 1442 program. We have test and evaluation and fit-out and development laboratories already working here in Australia for the SEA 1442 program, so that makes moving into other programs so much easier and it actually makes use of investment that the Commonwealth has already made into the SEA 1442 program."

Lenton also announced Leonardo’s intentions to pursue more situational awareness capabilities.

"So, we’re also going after situational awareness capabilities that the navy will require for these new programs. Because we manufacture our own sensors, electro optical sensors, weapons, control systems, combat management systems and so on, so we put those capabilities forward," he said.

"We also manufacture naval weaponry, so naval guns and torpedoes, and we’re also offering missile capabilities to Australia. So, it’s a whole variety, there’s no shortage, the are seven divisions within Leonardo from the manufacture of the Typhoon, Fighter Jet, Training Jets and then of course the helicopter division, which is very much present in Australia through Leonardo Helicopters Australia."

Lenton said that the company’s established base in Australia, along with their commitment to supporting already installed equipment, is another added bonus for the company’s future.

"At the moment Leonardo has been supplying aerospace, defence and security to Australia since the '60s, so it’s 50 years now," he said.

"We actually assembled 79 Macchi MB326 training jets here in Australia in the '60s so it can be done – assembly of aircraft in Australia can be done. At the moment we’re supporting about $1.5 billion worth of equipment installed already in Australia, things like Air Traffic Control Radars, over 100 helicopters, naval guns of our own design and manufacturing, the MU90 Torpedoes that Australia has in its inventory."

The push to establish Leonardo’s even more so within the Australian defence industry is partly due to the continuous naval shipbuilding strategy the government is promoting, Lenton said.

"We have a really well established installed base here in Australia, so our objective right at the moment is to support that equipment and also expand our business here by investing and working in new areas. The naval initiatives in Australia with a continuous naval shipbuilding strategy is a great opportunity for us because we have a very strong land and naval capability in Leonardo," he said.

"And so we’ve been going after opportunities in that sector and in fact we won the sea 1442 program – that’s the communications upgrade of the Anzac frigates. And so that’s really given us a push to establish ourselves even more here in Australia in our own right and hence we’ve now got a full support and delivery operation."

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