In an era where security and national defense are paramount concerns, the significance of a resilient and diverse supply chain cannot be overstated. Leonardo Helicopters, a global leader in the aerospace industry, is demonstrating a commendable commitment to the security and prosperity of the United Kingdom by investing millions in its onshore supply chain. The recently published figures underscore the pivotal role that this investment plays in sustaining the country’s engineering prowess, safeguarding intellectual property, and fortifying the national defense capability. With a burgeoning order book and a slew of both domestic and international orders, Leonardo’s UK-based helicopter business is on a trajectory of growth and influence. The company’s strategic choice to partner with over 650 UK suppliers in 2022, with nearly £500 million in procurement spend, not only fuels economic development but also bolsters the nation’s technological and industrial capacity. A notable feature of this expenditure is that around 25% was allocated to more than 250 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), underlining Leonardo’s dedication to fostering the growth of local businesses.
The strategic value of an onshore supply chain becomes more evident as the demands of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and international customers continue to evolve. This approach not only ensures the flexibility and resilience required to meet customer needs but also safeguards the UK’s high-tech skills, research capabilities, and intellectual property. By nurturing a supply chain within the country’s borders, Leonardo creates a self-sufficient ecosystem that can respond nimbly to changing requirements and geopolitical dynamics. The figures revealed in the report echo this foresight. In 2022, Leonardo’s procurement spend in Yeovil alone amounted to an impressive £474 million, distributed among 665 suppliers. What stands out is that nearly 40% of this spend was directed towards suppliers located in the 10% most deprived Local Authorities in England, as designated by the UK Government. This allocation of resources exhibits Leonardo’s commitment to socioeconomic equity, ensuring that prosperity cascades into regions that need it the most. Beyond economic benefits, Leonardo’s UK helicopter business supports approximately 12,000 British engineering and manufacturing jobs. This employment stability ripples through communities, bolstering local economies and nurturing a skilled workforce that has the potential to innovate in various fields beyond aerospace.
A hallmark of Leonardo’s approach is its end-to-end helicopter manufacturing capability, an attribute shared by only a handful of organizations globally. This distinctive capability allows Leonardo to encompass the entire lifecycle of helicopter development, from design and manufacturing to testing, certification, training, and support services. By retaining such expertise within the UK, the nation secures a position at the forefront of aerospace innovation and manufacturing. The geography of Leonardo’s onshore supply chain speaks to its commitment to a united and resilient UK industrial base. Suppliers from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland form a geographically diverse network, ensuring consistency in supply even in the face of challenges. This unity, fostered over decades of collaboration, creates a robust foundation that extends from cutting-edge research and manufacturing to complex systems and components. The launch of Team AW149 UK, an onshore supply chain for the AW149 helicopter, encapsulates this collaborative spirit.
Comprising a coalition of companies from various regions, this team is poised to deliver essential components for the AW149 military helicopter. The commitment to building this fleet within the UK further underscores Leonardo’s dedication to domestic manufacturing, supporting existing jobs while creating new opportunities across the nation. As the UK contemplates its future defense needs, Leonardo’s investments in onshore supply chains present a compelling narrative. The potential for building the AW149 fleet on a cutting-edge production line in Yeovil, coupled with a substantial portion of platform content and support being executed onshore, signals an investment in national skills, design capabilities, and manufacturing prowess. This investment translates into thousands of sustained jobs and the cultivation of new expertise throughout the nation. In conclusion, Leonardo’s commitment to an onshore supply chain is not only a testament to its corporate responsibility but also a demonstration of its dedication to bolstering national security and prosperity. By nurturing local businesses, preserving high-tech skills, and fostering resilience, Leonardo sets an example for others to follow. In a world marked by uncertainty, such a robust supply chain isn’t just an economic asset; it’s a strategic imperative.