Software developer Tuomo Leskinen is modernising Hawk trainer jets to meet the demands of modern flight training.

 After working as a software developer for over ten years, Tuomo Leskinen has found a new perspective on his career at Patria. “Working for a company that supports national defence is quite different to working for a profit-seeking listed company. I feel that I’m doing something meaningful here.” Leskinen joined the Hawk LVC (Live, Virtual & Constructive) modernisation project in late 2017. This project will extend the life of long-serving trainer aircraft with the aid of new functionality.

Something familiar and something new

There have been major advances in the industry since Leskinen graduated from the electronics training programme at Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Kuopio in 2005. “Wirelessness and connectivity are everywhere, as all devices are connected to each other. Bluetooth, ethernet, wifi and other wireless connections can be implemented in tiny devices. Increased processing power is another major step forward, as microsensors now have the same processing power as ten-year-old computers. The basics of integrated microcontrollers have, however, remained the same. We still work with C and C++.” Leskinen, who had previously worked with a variety of embedded systems, jumped into a whole new world of devices and software when he joined Patria. But all of his previous experience has been useful.

Diverse tasks

Around ten specialists work closely together in the Hawk LVC team. In addition to software development, Leskinen’s tasks include some software testing, analysing bug reports, and making physical Hawk software updates. Some of these updates are carried out when the aircraft come to Halli for maintenance, but some are also done on the fly. The goal is for all of the updates to be done at the same time. The biggest challenge that Leskinen has faced in his new job is learning the vast number of three-letter abbreviations. “The different systems have subsystems, which are all known by strange combinations of letters. As the mission computer is a very important part of our work, we have to be familiar with its subsystems. But everything is documented really well, which helps a lot.” Although he mainly works in Halli, Leskinen occasionally spends time in Pirkkala, at the Air Force Academy in Tikkakoski, and wherever the aircraft happen to be.

Gotta have a man cave

Leskinen spends his leisure time on a wide variety of hobbies. In winter he heads for the snowy slopes of Himos and Jämsä. Kickboxing, fitness boxing, downhill skiing and the gym also add a little spice to life. One of his biggest dreams is to own a detached house, complete with a large garage. “You gotta have a man cave, where you can mess around with those buzzing gadgets. Ten years ago I bought a summer car, a 1993 Nissan 300ZX – with twin-turbo and manual transmission, of course. It’s the kind of car you don’t come across too often,” Leskinen says with a touch of pride.