US-based Lockheed Martin has been ranked the world’s number one defence company in terms of revenue, range of high-tech products and worldwide presence. In fact, during US President Obama’s recent India visit, the two countries agreed on cooperation deals, including the joint production of drone aircraft and equipment for Lockheed Martin’s C-130 military transport plane. Phil Shaw, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India, in an interview with Huma Siddiqui, outlines the company’s strategy for India. Excerpts:
We welcome it. In many ways, it is an extension of what Lockheed Martin is already doing in India — we manufacture some of our components at our JV with Tata Advanced Systems in Hyderabad, and then ship them to the US for integration into the C130J production line. Our experience has been positive and we feel we can manufacture more here should an opportunity present itself and the business case support it.
We support the government’s goal of indigenising the defence industry and the strategy of creating more opportunities for local manufacturing, thereby reducing reliance on imports.
Greater defence manufacturing capability will provide a more competitive environment, benefiting the defence and home ministries. The workforce will acquire skills, helping the development of next-generation technologies.
Defence equipment could, therefore, be manufactured right here in India, providing jobs and tax revenue for the government.
Do Make in India and the Indo-US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) go together?
The two align perfectly — promoting co-production of current equipment and co-development of future capabilities in India.
Are you planning to invest in India’s defence sector?
We have already invested in the sector and remain committed to a long-term partnership with India. We are always looking for new opportunities to invest.
Your views on the current FDI cap of 49% for the defence sector.
Lockheed Martin welcomes the higher cap of 49%. The Indian government has indicated that it will consider further relaxation for state-of-the-art technologies, which is also welcome. Each investment decision, though, is considered on its own merits and the business case supporting it will determine the investment amount.
Is Lockheed Martin planning to tie up with ISRO for any mission?
There are no immediate plans to engage with ISRO in upcoming missions. However, Lockheed Martin’s space company monitors the activity in India in this domain, and it would be delighted to engage when an opportunity presents itself. We were extremely impressed by the Indian mission to Mars last year since we were actively involved in a parallel NASA mission. I am certain there will be opportunities to collaborate.
Your company, along with FICCI, is into innovation awards.
The DST-LM IIGP (India Innovation Growth Programme), run jointly by Lockheed Martin and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, along with our partner FICCI, aims to enhance the development of India’s entrepreneurial economy by accelerating innovative Indian technologies into markets in the US and around the world. It is the only programme of its kind that focuses on teaching and world-class commercialisation strategies. The IIGP has successfully provided innovators a platform to showcase their innovation to the angel investors/VCs/PEs community across India and the globe.
Are you participating in any other programmes in India?
We are actively pursuing navy, army and air force programmes, where we have capabilities to offer. We are also interested in supplying renewable energy generation technologies. For example, we have waste-to-energy and biomass-to-energy technologies that have large application in some parts of India.
We also have an interest in the civil aviation sector where we provide air traffic management, civil engine MRO, airport management IT systems and full motion simulators from Lockheed Martin Commercial Flight Training company.
The company’s commercial flight training provides full-motion Airbus A320 and B737 simulators in Gurgaon.