Italian defence firm, Leonardo S.p.A. has today signed a strategic agreement with French firm, Lacroix Defence. The agreement will allow both companies to work together on a new collaborative maritime project focusing on the development of anti-torpedo decoys. The collaboration will see the two companies pool their own torpedo counter-measures systems, Leonardo’s Mobile Jammer Target Emulator (MJTE) and Lacroix’s SYLENA Mk 2 decoy launcher system, into a single comprehensive shipborne torpedo shield. Leonardo’s MJTE will be accompanied by the Black Snake sonar array and the OTO Decoy Launching System 20. The resulting product is planned to be mountable on small – medium class vessels, from patrol ships up to destroyers. The final decoy product will allow all vessels to have a submarine countermeasures system no matter the size, or weight restrictions. The selection of Lacroix Defence as a strategic partner is due to its role as an innovative developer of advanced pyrotechnics based guided munitions defence systems for the land, air and maritime sectors. The company, based in Mazeres near Toulouse, is part of the larger Etienne Lacroix group and currently supplies products to 150 ships globally. The company’s collaboration with Leonardo will advance its position as a world leader in the electronic warfare market sector. The company currently produces the SEACLAD range of latest generation decoy systems alongside the SYLENA decoy launcher. Leonardo’s Head of Defence Systems, Andrea Padella, part of Leonardo’s ‘Leonardo Electronics’ division gave the following statement about today’s agreement:
“This agreement reaffirms Leonardo’s ability to interpret, respond to and often anticipate market needs. There is clear synergy in this partnership with LACROIX as together we can offer a sophisticated anti-submarine countermeasure solution, even for platforms with limited space. These require compact and lightweight launch systems which can simultaneously deliver Anti-Air Warfare and Anti-Submarine capabilities”Andrea Padella, Leonardo CEO
The involvement of Rome based, Leonardo S.p.A. sees the alliance as advancing their Be Tomorrow 2030 strategic plan. The strategic plan currently has three avenues of advancement, ‘strengthen our core’, ‘transform to grow’ and ‘master the new’. Strengthen the core refers to advancing the core business focusing on Leonardo’s specialist areas, aeronautics and mission systems. The second avenue, transform to grow, refers to Leonardo’s attempts to transform the company into a leaner more agile firm. The third avenue, master the new look, seeks to drive the company into new high tech markets, to address emerging market needs to come in at the beginning of new sectors. The joint-project will fulfil the first avenue of advancement through the manufacture of a maritime product. The second avenue is potentially complied with through the inclusion of a new partner company, allowing Leonardo to become more agile through spreading an allocated task load. The compliance with the third avenue comes through the project’s attempt to move forward into next generation decoy markets, anticipating and acting upon market trends. Lacroix Defence has a glimmering pedigree in the realms of decoy production, specialising in naval pyrotechnic systems since 1983 with the DAGAIE naval defence system. The company followed this up with 2011’s SYLENA Mk 1 decoy launch system. The creation of a joint-project with Leonardo is a natural step forward for the company, as it attempts to maintain its position as a leading developer of current and future naval defence systems.
Leonardo is one of Europe’s largest defence companies with 49,530 employees in total with subsidiaries in seven continents. The company has a particular penchant for aviation and mission systems. Leonardo’s has a niche but powerful presence in the maritime market stemming from its involvement in the production and marketing of torpedo systems, such as the Black Shark and Whitehead MU90 torpedo’s. A secondary prong of Leonardo’s maritime presence lies in its impressive mission systems in particular the, Athena Combat Management System. Leonardo’s move into the anti-torpedo market is a natural development for the firm, having been heavily involved in the design of missions systems for the state of the art FREMM class frigates. Lacroix Defence currently produces and markets a truly cutting edge SEACLAD family of decoy munitions, at a similar bent to Leonardo’s MJTE system. The SEACLAD family comes in four variants, SEALEM, SEALIR, SEALAT-CANTO and SEAMOSC, each optimized for dealing with RF guided, IR guided, Acoustic guided and Laser guided torpedoes. The production of these systems grant Lacroix an excellent insight into the technical details required to manufacture the world-beating decoys imagined by the drafters of the strategic partnership. Lacroix Defence stands to gain substantially from such an alliance pairing the medium sized company with a far larger defence goliath. Leonardo’s will benefit in turn from an influx of new ideas and strategies from a primarily maritime firm, potentially leading to a greater presence in the maritime defence market for a previously aviation/land focused company.