For more than 30 years, Leonardo in Edinburgh has been at the forefront of Infrared Countermeasures (IRCM) technology development, delivering cutting-edge solutions for customers around the globe, enabled by ongoing investment in its people and unique on-shore facilities.
“There is a real sense of pride in what we deliver,” says Stuart, “not only regarding the quality of our product, but in having world-leading manufacturing facilities in Edinburgh, including Centres of Excellence for Lasers and IRCMs. We truly believe this allows us to drive forward in delivering world-class Directed Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) and high-energy laser systems for our customers.”
Leonardo is incredibly proud that its Edinburgh facility is the sole manufacturer of DIRCMs in the UK. The “huge investment in developing these world-class facilities and our people” has been particularly critical, since the production of a DIRCM requires the highest standards of cleanliness and quality. “There is continued funding in this area to maintain these standards, and improve capacity and processes – all of which is consistent with our ‘continuous improvement’ ethos,” he adds.
“One of the key elements on Miysis DIRCM – from design and manufacturing perspectives – was that there were many things we understood from previous generations of IRCM development,” explains Stuart. “This included how to meticulously build and extensively test the equipment, putting it through environmental test screening to ensure the Miysis DIRCM system we deliver is the best it can be and will help keep aircrews safe.”
End-to-End Customer Engagement and Support
But it’s not just Leonardo’s technology expertise and experience that sets apart those that develop Leonardo’s DIRCM systems; the company’s commitment to customer service excellence throughout the lifecycle is equally important to the team, according to Stuart.
“We have a comprehensive, caring approach to sharing our knowledge and experience with customers, right from the very start. This involves us educating them about the DIRCM system’s technology and capabilities, what sets our system apart from others, and explaining how the nuances of installation and our support will provide their platform with the best results. Ultimately, this allows us to build up trust from the earliest engagement through to us being on contract, responding to customer needs and demands throughout.”
Chris Kesley, Senior Project Manager, Future IRCM at Leonardo, echoes this: “Our customers are our number one priority, full stop. Everything we do, and every decision we make, is done in the context of the customers and end-users we aim to protect.”
Following early engagement, the project team provides a comprehensive documentation suite, complete with all the test evidence from rigorous qualification testing already undertaken on Miysis, to ease installation and low risk certification onto any customer platform. Leonardo also closely provides support to ensure the DIRCM’s position is optimised on the aircraft, as defined by the customer’s individual operational requirements, based on perceived threats.
Stuart says: “Once the hardware is delivered to the customer’s schedule, we can provide support to the installation, commissioning and ground or flight testing. Miysis’s design means it is easy to install and set-up, and it will then operate autonomously once it is installed. As our existing customers already know, we are fully available to provide support if any questions or concerns emerge. This is part of our overall continuous responsiveness that we provide to all our customers.”
Better Never Stops
Underpinning this commitment to customer service and technology excellence is the Integrated Project Team (IPT) philosophy of ‘Better never stops’, focused on delivering ongoing improvements in every aspect of the team’s work and the best capability and customer support.
As Lead Test Equipment Engineer, Gus Kerr, testifies: “I’ve worked on IRCM products for over 20 years now, primarily due to the impact that our products have in the field. The fact that what we work on saves lives, inspires me to try to my job better each day. I’m extremely proud to be a small part of the Miysis family, which is continuing the company’s proud history of producing proven life-saving technology.”
“The whole IPT is driven by this ethos, always trying to improve our technology and delight our customers,” adds Stuart. “Knowledge-sharing is integral to this, with people dispensing their many years of knowledge and experience to the next generation of our team, and making sure they have a real understanding of the bigger picture of what the DIRCM system does when we bring a sudden and massive stream of coded laser energy to bear in a fraction of a second.”
“We work as an Integrated Project Team (IPT) and ensure that every team member – from our apprentices and graduates through to our manufacturing operatives – understands their important individual and collective parts in producing an end product that is there to safeguard lives. To bring them home safe…that really gets people energised and engaged; they really want to be part of it and feel the pride of what we do, satisfying our customers and delivering to deadline and to the highest quality. We strive to own the threat and mitigate it with Miysis DIRCM.”
Stuart himself has been developing DIRCM technology since 2001, initially as a young Graduate Engineer working on older generation DIRCM technology, and then as part of the small team which developed the first concepts for the latest generation Miysis DIRCM. Looking back on the past 20 years, he says: “My pride is seeing the products actually on the aircraft saving lives and protecting people. Additionally, I’m incredibly proud of the sheer number of jobs the work now supports here in Edinburgh and will continue to support over the next decade.”
Looking to the future, Stuart is adamant that the IPT’s pride, drive and ‘better never stops’ ethos in developing life-saving products continues. “Ultimately, we want to support our customers and see Miysis DIRCM deployed on aircraft far and wide, to keep as many people safe as possible from the advanced infrared MANPAD missile threat.”
Leonardo’s industry-leading knowledge is trusted to protect the people flying on platforms as diverse as VIP Heads of State, ISR, helicopters and large air transports. Delivering Miysis DIRCM to the UK and our export customers ensures safety and operational independence through a truly world-beating and unique capability.