Leonardo expertise to put Kuwait air force’s Typhoons at frontline of fighter technology

Leonardo expertise to put Kuwait air force’s Typhoons at frontline of fighter technology
Leonardo expertise to put Kuwait air force’s Typhoons at frontline of fighter technology

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Kuwait - Yasmine El Tohamy - KUWAIT: Participants visit the Kuwait aviation show, in Kuwait yesterday. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Kuwait Aviation Show 2020 opened yesterday near the Kuwait International Airport, featuring a long list of participants including 200 companies and more than 70 commercial and military aircrafts from 37 countries. During the event, Kuwait Times interviewed Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo Chief Executive Officer:

Q. Your company is attending Kuwait Aviation Show. What do you expect from the event?
A. After attending the Gulf Defense and Aviation exhibition last month, we are glad to participate in this aviation show, which will give us the opportunity to demonstrate to Kuwait some of our best in-class technologies, in addition to meeting our local customers and partners. Many of Leonardo’s technologies in the aviation sector are successfully operated in the country by a wide range of customers.

For example, we provide solutions to Kuwait airport, including data management systems, primary radar and the new baggage handling system for Terminal 4. Also, our AW169 helicopters guarantee onshore and offshore transport for Kuwait Oil Company.

During the airshow, we will have the opportunity to illustrate Leonardo’s capabilities in the training of military pilots, with over 60 years of heritage in manufacturing trainer aircraft – recently boosted by the latest simulation and virtual reality technologies. Both our new M-345 basic-advanced jet trainer and the well-known M-346 advanced jet trainer – which is also available and contracted in the fighter attack configuration – see interesting opportunities in the region, where a significant fleet of latest generation fighters are taking shape.

The fruitful partnership with the Italian air force is a strategic asset for Leonardo and a matter of pride for us. For this I wish to thank the Italian air force, which is partnering our presence at the Kuwait Aviation Show with two of its flagship aircraft – the Eurofighter Typhoon, which will be engaged in a breathtaking flight display performed by the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Italian Air Force Flight Test Wing), and the C-27J, the most advanced multi-mission airlifter, manufactured by Leonardo.

Q. You mentioned the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. Can you give us some information about the Kuwaiti program?
Over the past three years, we have worked both with our Kuwaiti counterparts and with our Eurofighter partners, and we are proud of the level of trust and collaboration we have reached. The first Instrumented Series Production Aircraft (ISPA 6) equipped with the Kuwait air force configuration successfully completed its first flight three weeks ago and deliveries will start later this year.

The Captor E-Scan radar and several new additions to the weapon system will put the Kuwait air force’s Typhoons at the frontline of fighter aircraft technology. It is worth remembering that a lot of effort is also going into shaping and delivering the best tools and solutions for logistics, operational support and the training of flight crews and ground personnel; all fundamental elements in delivering the best capabilities to Kuwait.

Q. How many planes will be delivered in 2020? And how many in 2023?
At present, the final assembly of the first six aircraft is underway at Leonardo’s plant in Torino-Caselle, and in 2020 four aircraft will be ready for acceptance. Then, we are planning to complete the deliveries of the remaining 24 by 2023. The schedule is very tight, but we are working hard and we are ready to meet it.

Q. How many planes have been delivered so far?
Nine customers – including of course Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar – have ordered 623 aircraft, of which more than 550 have already been delivered worldwide. Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced swing-role combat aircraft currently available on the market. Therefore, it can be deployed in a full spectrum of air operations including air policing and peace support.

Q. Can you tell us about the training? How is it going so far?
Training activity is fully rolling for all different types of roles. The new cadets are training at the Italian Air Force International Training Academy at the Lecce Galatina Air Base, flying on Leonardo’s integrated training system which is based on the M-346 jet. Twenty-four cadets have taken their wings so far under the leadership of the Italian air force, which is in charge of the training.

The operational training for Typhoon pilots is also underway at the Grosseto Air Force Base. Finally, 60 technicians are currently training with more courses rolling on into 2020, when Leonardo will start its own training activities for pilots and technicians at Ali Al Salem Air Force Base right after the delivery of the first aircraft.

Q. What will your company do here in terms of the infrastructure at Ali Al-Salem Air Base? And what type of support services will be available?
The Ali Al Salem Air Base will be the main operating base for Typhoons in the next decades. Construction work is almost completed in order to optimize the base for the Eurofighter requirements. The layout has been designed thanks to the customer experience provided by the Italian air force. The new facilities will be handed over to the Kuwait air force later this year.

Leonardo will also provide service support to the Kuwait air force covering all aspects related to Typhoon operations and maintenance, in close partnership with Kuwait air force personnel, and they will get the chance to enhance their technical knowledge and professional experience. At Leonardo, we are also looking at involving Kuwaiti personnel in other educational paths, in the frame of a partnership which goes beyond the Typhoon program.

Q. How will this benefit the Kuwaiti air force? Or what capabilities will this provide to the Kuwaiti air force that it didn’t have before?
I believe that the best testimonials for the capabilities of the aircraft are the air force pilots displaying the Typhoon during this Kuwait Aviation Show. By talking to them, you will get a flavor of their operational experience, and understand how this aircraft has incredibly enhanced their air operations.

What I can say, as the CEO of the company in charge of the production and delivery of this aircraft, is that with the Captor-E next generation AESA radar, which enables long-range detection and “first look, first shoot” capability, the Kuwait air force will be among the most advanced and capable air force in the world.

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