Multi-domain surveillance in the information superiority era

Across land, air, sea, space and cyber, threats are on the rise and to counter them Leonardo recognises the clear requirement for co-ordinated operations, fully exploiting the data coming from these domains. Integration and interoperability between surveillance platforms, sensors and systems are essential ingredients because they enable the information superiority required to support decisions and interventions in every domain along the entire chain of command.

> 1.000

air defence and surveillance radars in 58 countries

> 30

Kronos radar systems in service

> 50

Falco remotely piloted aircraft systems sold worldwide

> 3.000

radar systems sold in 42 countries and integrated on over 40 platforms

> 70

ATOS systems installed on more than 20 different crewed and uncrewed platforms worldwide


mission configurations for the C-27J Next Generation

In current operational scenarios marked by hybrid, indirect and particularly insidious threats, nations are forced to operate in far more complex contexts than in the past. The traditional Land-Sea-Air domains are increasingly intersecting with Cyber and Space, creating often unstable, confused environments in which forces in the field require integrated technological solutions able to give prompt responses to any defence and security need. The proliferation of systems at the disposal of government and non-government players demands a true paradigm shift towards a new multi-dimensional approach.

Access to multi-domain technologies is becoming strategically essential to provide operators with full situational awareness. Leonardo’s multi-role and netcentric capabilities can be applied across all domains (Land, Sea, Air, Space and Cyber). For example, applications include air surveillance, control of land and maritime zones, coastal patrol missions, search and rescue operations in the most hostile environments, tasks supporting international security, and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions.

In the ADS sector, Leonardo boasts extensive experience in developing and integrating advanced solutions in all five operational domains. The company has a wide range of interconnected products that ensure a collaborative, reliable and digitalised environment: tactical radar, multi-function sensors and optronic solutions that can accurately track medium- and long-range targets; electro-optical surveillance devices that find and recognise threats; and communication and mission systems that manage, process and share strategic data and information.

Leonardo’s integrated technological capabilities 

As a multiplier of operational effectiveness, the C-27J Next Generation represents a state-of-the-art example of the integration capabilities developed by the company. The latest evolution of the C-27J Spartan, the aircraft is distinguished by its new avionics, equipment and aerodynamic solutions that improve its performance. Moreover, it can be quickly reconfigured to carry out different types of mission. As a tactical airlifter, the aircraft can carry out operations such as the airlift of troops and cargo, airdropping paratroopers and materials, battlefield medical evacuation, VIP transport, firefighting operations, humanitarian assistance, and natural disaster response. The aircraft can be fitted with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) search radar, electro-optical/infrared systems and other specific sensors essential for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, maritime patrol (MPA), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), and support to Special Forces and to troops on the ground.


C-27J Next Generation

Another example of integration between platform and avionics systems is the Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS), the mission system developed by Leonardo to manage on-board sensors, integrating information collected and presenting a complete and constantly updated tactical picture to the operators.

Whether it is installed on board a helicopter, a fixed-wing aircraft or an uncrewed system, ATOS guarantees interoperability and efficiency in controlling vast areas of land and sea. Real-time fusion of information from different sensors minimises the time and effort required to analyse and understand events taking place in the area of interest. ATOS can be installed on any type of platform – such as the ATR 72MP maritime patrol aircraft and the AW139 and AW169 helicopters – to collect and integrate data generated by different sensors installed on board.

In particular, on the Italian Guardia di Finanza’s AW169s, the system also makes use of the Gabbiano multi-mode radar, which detects and determines the position and speed of fixed or moving targets with extreme precision. The helicopters also feature the Long Range Electro-Optical Surveillance System (LEOSS), and the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder.


UAS (Uncrewed Aerial Systems) for air, land and maritime applications across both civil and military sectors play a valuable role in Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, integrating platforms, sensors, mission systems and ground control stations. The Falco Xplorer, the latest evolution of Leonardo’s Falco family of uncrewed systems, is the first MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance)-class uncrewed system to exclusively use European technology. It is designed to deliver persistent surveillance over wide areas of interest and can carry multiple sensors up to 350kg in weight. The Xplorer is the latest entry in Leonardo’s Falco family of uncrewed systems, which also includes the Falco Evo. Among the system’s most advanced capabilities are automatic take-off and landing and satellite communications for beyond-line-of-sight operations. The Xplorer’s sensor suite, developed entirely in-house, consists of the company’s LEOSS electro-optical turret, Gabbiano TS-80 UL multi-mode radar, an Automatic Identification System for the monitoring of maritime traffic and the SAGE electronic intelligence system. The Falco Xplorer utilises Leonardo’s flexible ATOS mission system, which has an open architecture to allow for the integration of additional sensors or subsystems.

AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar systems – such as the Osprey 30, the Grifo-E, the Gabbiano Ultra Light, the TMMR (Tactical Multi-mission Radar), a key application in anti-drone systems, and the Kronos Grand Mobile HP (High Power), the newest product of the Kronos family – make it possible to intercept and follow targets at long, medium and short range for both civilian missions and military land and naval surveillance and air and missile defence. Scalable and adaptable on different platforms and environments, Leonardo’s radar systems – which can identify even the smallest targets – rely on a remarkable information processing capability and interconnection with other systems.

Kronos Grand Mobile HP

Being able to count on secure communications is critically important to ensure Information Superiority in today’s defence scenarios. Having access to numerous frequencies and capabilities to implement multiple protocols and applications, Leonardo’s family of tactical, naval and avionic radios – Software Defined Radio – guarantees flexible and secure voice and data exchange that benefit wide-scale interoperability. The SRT-800 transceiver, the smallest and most compact of the family, as well as being the flagship product in the avionic radio sector, has also been integrated on the NATO Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) fleet since 2021 with the aim of guaranteeing all voice and data communications and secure, cyber-resilient tactical communications. Leonardo is also one of the main partners of the European Secure Software Defined Radio (ESSOR) consortium, whose purpose is to define the architecture of a common European Software Defined Radio technology that will offer armed forces interoperability in coalition operations.

The space defence programmes SICRAL and OPTSAT-3000, and the dual Earth observation system COSMO-SkyMed, where Leonardo and its joint ventures play a key role in both space and ground segments, help to meet the Italian armed forces’ needs and operational requirements for secure satellite communications and geo-information.

The cyber dimension – the only intangible and non-physical dimension – affects and integrates all the others and their tools. In particular, Leonardo manages all stages of resilience against cyber threats for airborne platforms and infrastructure, including the development of cyber-secure-by-design systems, the testing of physical and virtual networks and equipment, and the provision of threat intelligence services.

Another key aspect is the constant updating of the skills needed to manage and recognise threats and cyber-attacks. Through its Cyber & Security Academy, Leonardo provides institutions, armed forces, companies and strategic infrastructure organisations with training programmes designed to raise the cyber resilience of avionic platforms and equipment, applying its own proprietary methodologies and assessing and testing the resilience of these platforms. This last activity is enabled by Cyber Range, a platform developed by Leonardo that creates fully-fledged digital twins of the infrastructure to be protected and simulates cyber-attacks with an exceptional level of realism.


SRT-800: data

Looking to the future, one of the most ambitious projects that will revolutionise the concept of air defence is the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), an international collaboration between Italy, the UK and Japan. This has the objective to create a ‘system of systems’ based around new generation air combat technologies and platforms for multi-domain defence operations. Integrated across the five domains: air, land, sea, space and cyber, the GCAP envisages the aircraft as core platform with other assets – from uncrewed platforms to advanced weapons – interconnected as part of a whole. It will rapidly manage a vast amount of data, using big data analysis tools, HPC computing, quantum technologies and artificial intelligence, providing aircrew and operators with the information superiority they will need to succeed in complex and contested battlespaces, as well as contributing valuable intelligence to other operators. Leonardo is a strategic partner in the programme, together with BAE Systems and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which will also involve Italy's leading industrial players, Avio Aero, Elettronica and MBDA Italia, as well as the country’s entire innovative and productive ecosystem.