It all started with the Radar Warning Equipment on-board the Tornado GR.1. Perhaps foreshadowing the Anglo-Italian character of today’s company, the very first equipment that Leonardo developed for Tornado was actually a collaboration between the company in the UK (at the time known as Marconi Space and Defence Systems) and Italy’s Elettronica. However, with electronic countermeasures considered of special national importance, it was Marconi alone which went on to develop the RAF Tornado’s self-protection jammer, being contracted in 1972 to provide a pod that could defend the aircraft from lethal Soviet surface-to-air missile systems. In 1978, that pod was formally named ‘Skyshadow’ and in 1981 Leonardo commenced deliveries, for the first time providing Tornado with a way to delay radar acquisition or, in concert with chaff and flares, break a radar lock.
By the time Skyshadow was being delivered, Leonardo’s engineers in Stanmore had already been working for years in parallel to develop the next generation of the original Radar Warning Equipment. The resulting Radar Homing and Warning Receiver (RHWR), which was installed on the Tornado GR.1, used clever signal processing techniques to improve the handling of multiple threats and provide more accurate threat clarification, capabilities that were well-received by Tornado crews.