– Lockheed Martin Lockheed Martin Corporation, leading American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company, is betting high on India with JVs and plans greenfield operations. In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s N V Vijayakumar, Lockheed Martin India Chief Executive Officer Phil Shaw shares the company’s long-term plans to support India’s defense projects and make India a manufacturing hub.
Can you share how you are looking at the opportunity in India?
We have been engaged in India’s manufacturing space for the last decade. During that period we have partnered with Tata Advanced Systems and other suppliers. We have already manufactured machine components and aerostructures for the C-130J Super Hercules, a four-engine turboprop aircraft, and S-92 helicopter, a four-bladed twin-engine medium-lift helicopter. That experience has been very successful, in terms of both manufacturing quality and on-time deliveries. We have also indigenised most of our production capability. For example, All C-130Js delivered to customers around the world have major aerostructure components from India included in their build through partnership with Tata in Hyderabad. That experience has given us the confidence to pursue even bigger opportunities and partnerships in India.
What is your game plan to manufacture in India?
Lockheed Martin has four business units, three of which have a presence in India ─ Aeronautics, Rotary and Mission Systems, and Missiles and Fire Control. The former two are physically located here in India and employ around 1,000 skilled workers. We are also currently working with a partner to explore vehicle technology.
We are finding lots of prospects in India, where both skills and the defense budget are growing. We’re also finding additional opportunities in manufacturing and assembling systems, subsystems, and products from India. We are looking for strategic Indian industry partners across the country ─ Indian companies of all sizes, including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and suppliers throughout India. All of these things help Lockheed Martin diversify its supplier ecosystem and deliver world-class products and capabilities to India and the global market.
Will you manufacture F16 in India?
That is indeed what we are proposing. There are unmatched opportunities for Indian industry on the F-16 program — the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem. Exclusive F-16 production also integrates Indian industry into a [USD] $165 billion fighter aircraft sustainment market. Only the F-16 has the proven performance and scale to meet the Indian Air Force’s fighter aircraft needs and ‘Make in India’ priorities.
Can you throw some light on your JVs in India?
Lockheed Martin has two state-of-the-art manufacturing Joint Venture investments in India with Tata Advanced Systems. These Joint Ventures were created to establish a manufacturing presence in India, support the fulfilment of offset obligations, and contribute to ‘Make in India’ initiatives. We hope to grow these partnerships and build new ones as part of our F-16 proposal to India. Lockheed Martin recently emphasized its commitment to India by announcing the company will partner with Tata Advanced Systems to commence production of F-16 wings in India. The landmark ‘Make in India’ announcement is a strategic initiative that positions Tata to become the provider of wings for all future customers.
What is your game plan to bring in your supplier ecosystem to India?
We have engaged with more than 70 Indian suppliers, including MSMEs, and 17 existing Tier 1 Lockheed Martin suppliers in India. Many of our Tier 1 F-16 suppliers interacted with these companies recently during a supplier conference we hosted with Tata in Bengaluru. The conference provided a platform for Indian players in the industry to explore opportunities, share knowledge with our global suppliers. Current F-16 industry partners include global aerospace and defence leaders like GE, Terma, Honeywell, Fokker, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Elbit, UTC, Terma, Eaton, Moog, and Parker, all of which already have an established presence in India.
How do you find India’s bubbling startup ecosystem help in your product development vision?
The advantage of startups is that they bring new ideas and passion to the table. We want to engage and potentially partner with these smaller startup companies to help them build up capacity. Defence and aerospace product development cycles often have long gestation periods. If startups align with bigger companies, it enables smaller companies to scale-up their operations by leveraging the experience and scale of larger companies like ours. Lockheed Martin has a USD $200 million venture fund we use to invest in small companies and we’ve invested $100 million in startups in the last two years alone. We have 16,000 industry partners and suppliers around the world. Of those, 9,000 are small and medium-size companies.