Leonardo, in collaboration with Microsoft and Accenture, becomes the first major UK defense company to migrate key applications and data to a secure cloud environment, thanks to the choice of the "Azure" cloud platform at its UK sites. Leonardo's engineers in the country will be able to remotely and securely access a "digital backbone" that will accelerate technological research, reduce development costs and allow for closer collaboration with customers and partners. In the future, this digital infrastructure will also make it possible to exploit the enormous amount of data collected to develop new products and services.
Leonardo, known in the UK for its helicopters and for producing advanced electronics for the Royal Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon fleet, is investing around £100m in the country this year as part of a strategy that includes the innovative “Future Factory” project. In 2022, the company opened digitized electronics factories in the UK, with digital infrastructure that facilitates the access and use of big data.
Gareth Hetheridge, Digital and IT Director at Leonardo UK commented: “With the introduction of a digital backbone, employees, partners and customers can now securely access relevant data and applications anytime, anywhere. This will be essential to enable the transition to a model where defense companies and customers work side by side, despite being physically located in other parts of the country or the world. Strong partnerships with Microsoft UK and Accenture have enabled us to rapidly adopt this technology; we are proud to be the first to promote the benefits that the cloud can bring to the UK defense industry".
Aaron Neil, Director Defense & Secure Markets at Microsoft UKSaid: “Over the last year we have worked with Leonardo UK to better understand its ambitions and priorities within the digital transformation. We are delighted to support the company's evolution to 'Azure' to enable highly secure access to the cloud. This collaboration is a milestone in providing advanced technology and development of critical capabilities for the defense of the country ".
Louisa Hainsworth, Managing Director Microsoft Business Group Lead at Accenture in the UK, stressed: “We are supporting Leonardo to overcome barriers in the Defense sector with the potential made available by a cloud environment. The commitment to continuous renewal, the learning of new skills and the adoption of "disruptive" technologies will allow Leonardo to rapidly make a key contribution to the defense sector".
The cloud will support the creation of latest generation collaborative programs, such as the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) where Leonardo is at the center of international cooperation to create a sixth generation combat system. With the aim of developing the platform in half the time compared to a previous generation system, the project will require new working practices that will see partners working together in a more agile way. The secure cloud will ensure adequate support to achieve all of these goals.
Security issues in the past have prevented the UK defense industry from fully benefiting from the cloud. Now, through the "Azure" platform, Leonardo is ready to take full advantage of the technology while enabling greater security.
Leonardo's digital transformation project and cloud adoption is driven by a technology-intensive business typology, powered by the innovative thinking of 8.000 highly skilled UK-based employees. The digital backbone will allow for streamlining or eliminating processes where possible and automating time-consuming tasks with little added value.
Digitization will increase productivity and allow for the full exploitation of Defense data, the objective of the "Digital Strategy for Defence" of the UK Ministry of Defence. The project will also be implemented in Leonardo's recently inaugurated new plant in Newcastle. Here, 200 new jobs will be filled mainly by engineers and experts in emerging technologies.