Coronavirus company news summary – RAF Puma conducts airlift in Scotland – Leonardo updates on Falco Xplorer – Australian defence funds face shield production

23 April 2020 (Last Updated April 23rd, 2020 09:13)

23 April

A UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Puma helicopter has conducted the first medical evacuation in Scotland. The three-person helicopter crew transferred a “critically ill patient” from the Isle of Arran to the University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock. The patient showed severe symptoms of coronavirus. The Puma aircraft is one of three units stationed at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland under a new Aviation Task Force established by the UK Government for coronavirus response.

Italian aerospace, defence and security company Leonardo is focused on achieving military certification for its Falco Xplorer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) this year or early 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic. Leonardo Electronics SVP Airborne Systems Fabrizio Boggiani was quoted by Jane’s as saying: "There is some impact now [from coronavirus], but we are moving forward along our plan. Everyone in Italy is subject to restrictions - there is no specific flexibility for those working in the military domain. We have never stopped working [on the Falco Xplorer], but surely we have had to slow down."

The Australian defence department has partnered with South Australian company Axiom Precision Manufacturing to rapidly make new face shields. The family-owned company will initially produce 1,000 new face shields a day. The numbers will increase with the maturing of the manufacturing process. The lightweight shield has been designed by Defence Science and Technology Group (DST). About 600 shields have already been distributed. In addition, Victorian manufacturer Med-Con has received support from the Australian Defence Force personnel to increase surgical face masks production.

Privately held full-service contract development manufacturing organisation (CDMO) Ology Bioservics has been contracted to adapt its proprietary Veroplex cell platform to quickly respond to viral infectious diseases. The $27.3m contract has been awarded by the Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Enabling Biotechnologies. The company noted that Vero cell line in combination with latest manufacturing technologies could prove effective in producing vaccines.