Aerospace engineering company Leonardo has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category for technology that aircrew and soldiers have said makes them feel safer when they have to fly into danger zones. The Innovation Award category acknowledges the ingenuity of Leonardo’s infrared countermeasure (IRCM) technology, which protects aircraft against heat-seeking missiles. Typically, such missiles are deflected when an aircraft ejects pyrotechnic flares, however because they have a limited supply of such devices, it makes them vulnerable to attack once expended. Leonardo’s latest IRCM developments include a product called Miysis that deflects missiles by ‘dazzling’ the threat’s infrared (IR) guidance system with a powerful laser, throwing it off course. First-hand feedback from soldiers flying as passengers and aircrew operating the aircraft has confirmed that they don’t want to fly without the protection afforded by the system, because of its ability to deflect multiple missiles coming towards an aircraft from different directions. Leonardo Project Engineering Manager Murray MacKenzie said: “An end user comment that sticks with me is that the pilots won’t fly without it, and will ask if it is on board before flying on a mission. I was present at a briefing by a senior member of the military who said it is one of the few bits of technology that is not only revered by service
people, but also their families, as it helps to bring their partners, parents, sons and daughters home alive and safe.” Vital protection Leonardo in Edinburgh has previously won a Queen’s Awards for Enterprise for Innovation in 2011 and International Trade in 2010. Leonardo employs over 2,000 highly skilled people in Edinburgh and more than 7,500 across the UK. Engineers who have heard the soldiers’ and aircrews’ testimonials have felt great pride that the work they carry out on a daily basis at the company’s site in Edinburgh has helped users feel they are more protected.
bit like a goalkeeper with such a giant reach that the opposition can never score a goal… that’s the sort of goalkeeper we create at Edinburgh.” Alastair McFarland, Head of Strategic Initiatives at Leonardo added: “Under that small sapphire dome is an incredibly accurate, powerful laser. The team in Edinburgh is immensely proud of our technology and the trust placed in their engineering by aircrew around the world.”
Dave Gourlay, Leonardo’s Edinburgh-based Head of Campaigns, clearly remembers being a passenger in a flight departing Kandahar at night with all the external and internal aircraft lights turned off. He said: “It was pitch black, as you would expect, and I remember looking at the engine exhausts as they glowed red hot on full take-off power – thinking they were a potential target for any heat-seeking missile. Then I remembered being thankful knowing our technology was on board protecting us. It is a discreet capability that is rarely in the limelight. A
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Queen’s Awards Magazine 2022
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