Leonardo is awarded a £260m contract from the Ministry of Defence

Team SkytaleGlobal high-tech company Leonardo, which has its UK headquarters in Essex, has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) worth £260m. The contract will see Leonardo and military sensor company Hensoldt upgrade the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) technology on more than 350 of the UK’s operational aircraft, naval vessels and ground-based air defence systems to the latest ‘Mode-5’ standard.

The IFF technology, central to all military operations, is used to identify friendly forces and the advanced technology system allows UK forces to operate safely alongside NATO allies. In the UK, Leonardo has previously delivered Mode-5 IFF for the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers and the Royal Air Force’s Typhoons. Together, working as ‘Team Skytale’, Leonardo and Hensoldt are Europe’s leading provider of Mode-5 IFF solutions.

"This £260m contract for battle-winning technology builds on decades of operational experience to keep UK pilots, soldiers and sailors safe on operations.”

Harriett Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement

Benefitting from the strategic location of Essex

Leonardo office Essex

Leonardo is the largest inward investor in the UK defence sector, the largest Italian inward investor to the UK, and one of the biggest suppliers of defence equipment to the UK MoD. Leonardo has a long, proud history in Essex and is using that strength to maintain its position in fiercely-competitive global markets.

As a global business, Leonardo benefits greatly from Essex’s strategic location and excellent national and international transport links. The Basildon site is just a short drive from Tilbury Docks and the London Gateway container port, which is one of the UK’s most important hubs, enhancing the economic competitiveness of Essex businesses even further.

"As a part of an international company with a commercial footprint outside of the UK, our Basildon facility also benefits from good transport links to London’s airports and the new link between Southend Airport and Edinburgh, where another key Leonardo site is situated.”

Mike Gilbert, Head of Leonardo’s Basildon site, Leonardo

A highly skilled workforce

Leonardo apprenticeThe company’s site at Basildon is the headquarters for Leonardo’s UK Land and Naval Defence Electronics business. Here, nearly 1,000 people are involved in the design and development of thermal imaging systems, radar systems, radio communications, electronic warfare, infrared detection, signal processing and network systems.

A high-technology business like this depends on access to a highly-skilled workforce.

“With a storied heritage, Leonardo’s Basildon site has produced a number of world firsts including ‘TICM’, the UK’s first military standard production thermal imager, and the Phoenix unmanned military surveillance vehicle. Today, the company provides cameras and other sensors for a majority of the vehicles used by the British Army and has even sold its thermal camera technology for use in cricket via the ‘Hot Spot’ heat vision system seen on Sky Sports and by filmmakers for the BBC’s Planet Earth 2.”

Mike Gilbert, Head of Leonardo’s Basildon site, Leonardo

About Leonardo

Leonardo, Italy’s main industrial company, is one the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security. The company is organised into seven business divisions: Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne and Space Systems; Land and Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security and Information Systems.

With revenues in the UK of £2.3 billion, including £1.3 billion of exports, Leonardo makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, employing 7,400 highly skilled personnel across the country. The company invests around £200 million in Research and Development (R&D) in the UK, and continues to sustain and invest in a substantial UK supply network of around 2,300 companies.

See here for more information on Leonardo.

Simon Papworth
Simon Papworth

Inward Investment Manager (High-Technology Cluster)

+44 (0) 7515 199255


Simon has worked in inward investment for the last four years, building a wide network of trusted business connections, working on a variety of successful projects in the advanced manufacturing sector. Prior to this, Simon spent 7 years advising business owners and entrepreneurs, with a focus on bringing innovative products to market.