Vice President of Leonardo’s Eurofighter Programme, Guido Sibona is leading the delivery of the aircraft to the Kuwaiti Air Force. The first two Eurofighter Typhoons, from a total of 28, were handed over in December 2021. He discussed his role on a programme that has developed the most up-to-date configuration in Eurofighter history.

Can you tell us something about the challenges?

We had a challenging deadline for the handover of the first aircraft, in what is a very complex programme. It included a new avionics configuration and the new E-Scan radar for the first time in Eurofighter Typhoon.

My involvement started three years ago at the very beginning of the production phase and the assembly line start-up of the Kuwait variant. And throughout, there have been many firsts on the programme. Of course, being first is itself a challenge. The new avionics and sensors are major technical breakthroughs for Eurofighter.

Add the fact this is a first-time customer for Leonardo in the region and on top of everything else we had the pandemic and the need to adapt to new ways of working!
It’s important to stress we have not done this alone. The support of all the Eurofighter partners has been key, as has the support of the customer.
 
How have you worked to overcome these significant challenges?

You need to start to plan well ahead of time because things happen during a programme. We have used all the management tools at our disposal. You must have an open relationship with suppliers and partners to ensure you are correctly addressing all challenges, either technical, financial, or whatever else comes up. Coordinating all the activities is being a huge effort and a collective effort. However, we’ve delivered a new configuration that is the most advanced ever produced by Eurofighter.

The programme has taken up three years of your life. How did it feel to see the first Eurofighters arrive in Kuwait?

It was very emotional as they performed their flypast before landing. We were happy to be there to share the moment with the people who had worked to get us to this stage, and our partners, it was a big moment for all of us. You look back at all the hours spent on telephone calls, the thousands of emails and documents, all the discussions and long nights and weekends, and then you realise it is just the beginning!

Tell us something about the career path that led you to this role?

I started work with Leonardo around 30 years ago as a manufacturing engineer. Since then I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved with many different programmes, both the military and civil, often working at the start of production. I’ve worked at all Leonardo’s Italian plants and lived for four years in the US working on different commercial programmes the latest being the 787 with Boeing.

This is my second stint with Eurofighter, I was a production manager at the beginning of the programme. I was asked to come back for this exciting role and did the right thing when I said ‘yes’.
 
What attributes do you need in a role like this?

The key is relationship building. I often say that once you have built a good network, 50 per cent of the work is done. Having a good technical background helps without question, but the main part is being able to work in different environments with different cultures and be able to establish honest and open relationships.

What makes working on the Eurofighter programme so special?

What has become even clearer to me since returning is the strong “family feeling” around the programme. People are very proud to be part of Eurofighter, this is what I observe in Leonardo’s people or in the interactions with Eurofighter Partners teams: many of them have grown their career path by being in the programme, the youngest are focused in the future of the Eurofighter program. That shows how the program is mature and well performing and also its solid path in the European defence of the future. Experienced or young, if you work in the Eurofighter’s frame, it’s clear you are part of something special.

What does the future hold for you?

The immediate future is this amazing and challenging professional experience with the Eurofighter programme and community. We are working on the next deliveries and at the enormous potential of the Eurofighter based on its “Long Term Evolution Program” (LTE).

Photos: Alessandro Maggia

Check out this video where Guido Sibona, Leonardo's Eurofighter Programme Unit manager, tells us about some of the programme's distinguishing features HERE