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Leonardo has reopened its airborne systems facility in L’Aquila, Italy, which was damaged in a 2009 earthquake.

The facility, rebuilt according to the highest environmental and earthquake-resistant standards, will focus on the design and certification of Mode-5 identification friend/foe (IFF) systems for civilian and military aircraft and equipment for airborne communications.

Spread over an area of 4,500m², the new site will develop technologies that allow pilots to automatically recognise ‘allied’ aircraft and to exchange information with them.

Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo said: “The opening of a new industrial park, where state-of-the-art technologies are developed by highly skilled, specialist staff, is a concrete symbol of Leonardo’s commitment to the revival of the Abruzzo region’s economy.

“The expertise of our people here in L’Aquila contributed to Leonardo having recently been awarded a major contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to upgrade the IFF systems on more than 350 aircraft, ships, and ground emplacements.

"We are confident that this site will be an important driver for growth in the region.”

"We are confident that this site will be an important driver for growth in the region."

In June, Leonardo secured a contract worth more than €290m from the UK MoD to deliver next-generation IFF technology.

As part of the contract, Leonardo and HENSOLDT, working together as ‘Team Skytale’, will upgrade IFF systems on aircraft, naval vessels, and ground-based air defence systems operated by the UK military.

To date, Leonardo has secured IFF technology contracts in countries, including Italy, the UK, Sweden and Japan.

As offered by Leonardo in L’Aquila, all Nato countries will be required to upgrade their IFF equipment to the latest ‘Mode 5’ standard by 2020 to continue to embark on joint operations.

Image: Leonardo inaugurates its new airborne systems facility in L'Aquila, Italy. Photo: courtesy of Leonardo – Società per azioni.