James R Gribbon, Lockheed Martin’s Regional President for South Asia, is responsible for the corporation’s international business development in all five business areas: Aeronautics, Mission Systems and Training, Missiles and Fire Control, Information Systems & Global Solutions, and Space Systems.
In an exclusive e-mail interview with Ramananda Sengupta on the eve of Aero-India 2013, Gribbon explains why India ranks is high on his company’s radar.
How would you define Lockheed’s relationship with India? What are the key elements of the partnership with India?
At Lockheed Martin, we do more than simply deliver programs and capabilities. We’re also invested in the countries where we live and work. For example, in India, Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems have formed a joint venture company, Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures, for manufacturing airframe components for the C-130J.
“Throughout aviation history no aircraft, either developed or under development, can match the flexibility of the C-130 Hercules.”
Lockheed Martin is committed to a long-term partnership in technology development, manufacturing and strategic collaboration with Indian companies from both the public and private sectors. Its broad-based portfolio can address important Indian requirements in defence, security and delivery of vital public services. We are committed to working with our industrial partners and Indian defense industry to develop long-term, high-value projects that bring technology and sustainable business to India.
What are the main Lockheed products we can hope to see at Aero-India 2013?
For Aero India 2013, one of the key focus areas would be the C-130J Super Hercules—the world’s most proven airlifter. Throughout aviation history no aircraft, either developed or under development, can match the flexibility of the C-130 Hercules. In production longer than any other military aircraft, the Hercules has always demonstrated the ability to fulfil the mission’s requirements. The aircraft’s multi-role, multi-mission capability is demonstrated daily by meeting the airlift needs of 72 countries. Be it combat delivery, special missions, aerial refueling, search and rescue, firefighting, weather reconnaissance, armed ISR, medivac, long range maritime patrol or the strategic and last tactical mile resupply of ground forces, the C-130 is always ready. Fifteen countries, including India, have already selected the C-130J Super Hercules to meet their airlift requirements. Be it recapitalization of existing fleets, or new operators seeking proven airlift performance and capability, the C-130J is always the logical, low risk, proven answer.
In addition, Lockheed Martin will also be showcasing its world-proven missile systems including the precision-strike AGM-114R multi-purpose HELLFIRE II which consolidates the capabilities of all previous HELLFIRE II variants equipped with semi-active laser (SAL) seekers into a single missile that defeats hard, soft, and enclosed targets; DAGR puts proven HELLFIRE II technology into a 2.75-inch guidance section that integrates seamlessly with legacy Hydra-70 rockets and Javelin which designed originally as a shoulder-fired, medium-range precision-strike anti-tank weapon, has proven to be highly versatile: It defeats a broad target set, particularly in urban combat.
Lockheed Martin will also focus on The MH-60R/S Romeo and Sierra which are the lowest-risk and most advanced maritime helicopters the Indian Navy can procure for their multi-requirement NMRH program.
Another offering for the Indian Navy which will be showcased will be Aegis–a combat system used by the premier navies of the world. It controls the combat systems on the ship and does the majority of work in detecting, tracking and engaging threats. Aegis can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines, and surface ships while automatically implementing defenses to protect the fleet against aircraft and missiles.
Apart from the C-130J and various programmes under the India Innovation programme, are there any new joint ventures in the pipeline? If yes, what is their status?
Besides the excellent performance on the C-130J programme, other examples of Lockheed Martin’s commitment to India and efforts towards building partnerships include the DST-Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Programme, support to IIT Delhi for research in the nano-bio technology field; support to a group of students from the Delhi Technological University to design and build a next-generation UAV. These programmes again highlight Lockheed Martin’s commitment to a partnership with India over the long-term.
“Lockheed Martin has entered into over 300 global partnerships to deliver important National Security resources to National Governments.”
Lockheed Martin also has a JV with the Tata group. The JV facility is building large structural components for the C-130J and will be integrated into the world-wide supply chain for the programme global supplies.
Have you faced any specific challenges while negotiating defence deals with the Indian government or with US export laws?
Every market has challenges which are unique. As a global supplier of quality equipment, Lockheed Martin has the experience of working in different environments and adjusting to the needs of the customer. We at LM are here to work within Indian Government and US Government procedures to deliver best value.
Would you consider other joint production ventures with India if the volumes warranted it?
India is fast becoming part of the global supply chain of some of the biggest defence suppliers in the world. India’s potential as a manufacturing hub in the aerospace and defence sector is just being realised. India is an important and attractive destination for a company such as Lockheed Martin which is interested in a long-term partnership with Indian industry and services. We share the thirst for technological innovation. The Indian software industry has developed skills and expertise which are applied to such varied sectors as banking, insurance, financial applications and artificial intelligence. We recognize that Indian industry and research facilities are promising partners for us in this strategically critical field. Over the years, Lockheed Martin has entered into over 300 global partnerships to deliver important National Security resources to National Governments.