Digitisation: the new frontier of technological development

The convergence of the real and digital dimensions is creating a close continuum within the working and business contexts. Data, which has become central and increasingly strategic, must be protected and managed using digital interfaces to extract the maximum possible value.

Over the next ten years, Leonardo will be working to enhance its established businesses and to develop the technological innovation projects outlined in the Be Tomorrow – Leonardo 2030 strategic plan. The ultimate goal is to implement a sustainable transformation of the new technological cycles, thanks above all to the integration of digital and manufacturing.

The role of data

The speed with which this shift is happening is unprecedented in the history of technological and industrial innovation. Extracting value from data means driving the reorganisation of production processes and accelerating technological development, adopting a multi-domain perspective and ensuring cyber security by design of our products and services.

If data is the oil of the future, knowing how to manage digital information by collecting, processing and using it becomes a competitive advantage.

Together with avionics solutions, sensors and ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance Target, Acquisition, Reconnaissance) systems, Space is one of the primary sources of information at Leonardo. Satellites make it possible to acquire vital data for orientation in the dimensions of space and time and for analysing the chemical-physical composition of an area or object. They also enable the monitoring of motorways, water and energy networks, manufacturing plants, cultural heritage, buildings and assets of various kinds.

The supercomputer

Advanced supercomputing infrastructures are needed to transform big data in space into targeted applications and services. This is why Leonardo has created davinci-1, one of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing systems in the Aerospace, Defence and Security sector, the hybrid infrastructure of which enables it to combine supercomputing and cloud computing.



installed at Torre Fiumara in Genoa



million billion
operations per second



gigabytes of memory



engaged in its operations

Among the most powerful HPCs in the AD&S industry worldwide

davinci-1 is closely interconnected with the Leonardo Labs network to conduct research into the disruptive technologies crucial to the digitisation of industrial processes: Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Intelligent System, Big Data Analytics, High-Performance Computing, Electrification of Aeronautical Platforms, Materials and Structures and Quantum Technologies.

Digital Twins

Among these, the digital twin represents the most advanced frontier of modelling, simulation and prediction enabled by digital technologies. Creating a digital twin means digitally reproducing a physical object, a process or an entire system in real-time. Making it work requires the maximum available digital technology: extreme computing power, fast connections, enormous data availability, advanced sensor technology, excellent algorithms, models and machine learning systems for semantics and image recognition.

By integrating data collected on the ground or via satellite and numerical models it is possible to create digital twins of potentially everything: objects, infrastructures, natural elements and even the entire Earth. By adding artificial intelligence algorithms, the capabilities of the digital twin extend to the ability to design preventive actions to correct or influence its evolution.

At Leonardo this technology is used for drones, helicopters, the Eurofighter platform, and instructor training. It includes the improvement of these products and the design of others in the future because it shortens development times, reduces costs and eliminates risks.

Future Combat Air System

The Future Combat Air System is the ultimate expression of digital technologies applied to the aeronautical sector. At its heart will be a Combat Cloud within which data from all available platforms, both integral and external to the FCAS system, will converge. 

This System of Systems will support multi-domain missions, including in Space and Cyber environments. By collecting and processing vast amounts of data through big data analysis tools, HPC computing, quantum technologies and Artificial Intelligence, the Combat Cloud will enable operators to analyse the operational scenario, assess options and define actions to be carried out by various platforms. By synchronising effects with precision, the result is greater than the simple sum of the effects produced across all domains.

The use of digital twins will be an integral part of the design of FCAS airborne platforms. The digital twin is an increasingly useful tool which faithfully represents the actual product or system. This means that the digital twin can be used to test, improve and develop a product or system to a more mature level than would be possible using a traditional physical prototype, saving time and money.

Leonardo is already working on the development of FCAS technologies via self-funded investment and in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Defence, as well as through the international FCAS programme, launched in 2018 through Team Tempest. Leonardo UK is a founding member of Team Tempest and Italy joined the project in 2020. 

One of the technologies that Leonardo is also developing for FCAS is the latest generation of integrated sensing. The ability to process data collected from multiple sources and domains with unprecedented speed, accuracy and security will give system operators an information advantage for the scenarios in which they are operating.