BAN's World GazetteerU.K.
UK operator 2Excel Aviation has signed a five-year strategic partnership contract extension with Leonardo. The deal is intended to allow Leonardo to accelerate research and development work and introduce new capabilities to the market faster. An existing contract running from 2017-21 started the important collaboration.
Over the years, the relationship between Leonardo and 2Excel has become closer, with Leonardo regularly making use of 2Excel’s ability to turn concepts into capabilities, to accelerate the development of its own advanced electronics systems, allowing Leonardo to secure a competitive edge by bringing capabilities to market more quickly.
An example of this approach is the trials for Leonardo’s Osprey 50 E-scan surveillance radar. 2Excel was able to fit the new radar to a B200 King Air test aircraft and certify it for flight very quickly, allowing Leonardo to accelerate the radar’s development cycle and demonstrate its in-flight performance to potential customers. Leonardo has subsequently sold the Osprey 50 radar to a number of international customers.
The contract will see a dedicated 2Excel project support and trials planning team working alongside Leonardo’s trials department, providing support for rapid concept to capability through design, manufacture, installation, certification and operation. 2Excel will also invest further in its flight test bed aircraft to meet Leonardo requirements.
In addition to its flight trials partnership, Leonardo has placed a series of contracts with 2Excel to prepare for the Tempest flight test aircraft programme. This will see the partners completely overhaul a Boeing 757-200 commercial airliner, turning it into a flying laboratory for combat air technology named ‘Excalibur’. Excalibur will provide the real-world environment necessary for the latter stages of development of the complex integrated sensors, non-kinetic effects and communications Leonardo is developing for Tempest, the Future Combat Air System that the UK and its international partners are developing to fly into service in 2035.