‘Our main focus in Asia is India’: Lockheed Martin
SP’s M.A.I. caught up with Susan A. Maraghy, Vice President, South Asia, Corporate International Business Development, Lockheed Martin, who was in India recently to attend the “Invest North—A Conclave to Showcase Investment Opportunities in Northern State
SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): Which are the countries you are focusing in South Asia? Susan A. Maraghy (Maraghy): The US Department of Defense is now focusing on India, the ten Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) countries, Australia and New Zealand. In Asia, however, our main focus at present is India. We have been here for more than 20 years already, and I believe we will be in India for times to come. We have a new Chief Executive for India. We are thrilled that he will be the steward of our strategy here. SP’s: The unmanned aerial system (UAS) market is growing and the US has an edge along with Israel. How is the money to be shared between the F-35 and the UAS? Maraghy: We are continuing to make progress on the F-35 along with the US Government and our partners. The programme is going well; creating milestones to the satisfaction of our government customers. We are proud of the joint strike fighter and like most of our platforms, it too has a long life span, 40 plus years. With respect to UAS, that’s a mission. We are continuing with the research and development of unmanned autonomous vehicles, whether they are for air, land or subsea. SP’s What is your next stake for the Indian Air Force (IAF)? Maraghy: We want to take on our C-130J programme further, selling the aircraft for different missions. By that I mean more aircraft for the IAF and also for the Indian Coast Guard as well. We have success with multi-mission capabilities on F-35s—maritime and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system. We have to explore these features with the IAF. We are very pleased that the US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel and Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton B. Carter are developing relationships with Government of India through the Defence Trade Initiative (DTI). During his visit to India in mid-September, Dr Carter will hold discussions with the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on different offers, from precision attack to maritime solutions. Lockheed Martin is interested in co-production, co-manufacture and co-development in India. We are here to understand the industries we can collaborate, including civil and homeland security. Four areas that we are predominantly looking at are border security, critical infrastructure protection, emergency preparedness and response, information sharing and learning. SP’s: Are you talking to anyone in India regarding development of precision weapons, subsystems, avionics, etc? Maraghy: We are exploring opportunities of joint venture (JV) with small and medium enterprises as well. We already have a joint ven- ture with Tata and Fly Wings International Private Limited, Mumbai. In our JV company with Tata, we are manufacturing parts for C-130s which would be supplied worldwide and if India continues to buy, we will be supporting the aircraft here as well. We need our partners to be competitive and have the capability to scale to serve the global market. SP’s: Which are the sectors you are looking at in the South Asian region other than defence? Maraghy: We are looking at offering technologies to countries that are looking to bolster their cyber defence. The other area that is very consistent but has been driven apart because of budget constraints is governmental operational efficiency—IT outsourcing and business management. The consistent region of growth is cyber and IT. With respect to defence, it differs from one country to another. It could be maritime patrol or other capabilities which are a part of their modernisation plans. SP’s: There has been a belief that the technology India is getting from the US is old and not first hand. What is your view? Maraghy: India is getting first-hand technology with the C-130. Dr Carter’s Defence Trade Initiative is the first great positive step to breakdown the perspective that India does not get the first technology. Indian private sector companies and the DPSUs do have the capability to co-develop and co-manufacture. SP’s: How do you view India’s decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) above 26 per cent in defence production on a case-to-case basis? Maraghy: We are very encouraged with the decision. This would benefit business in defence as in other sectors. SP’s: Lockheed Martin has made its presence felt in corporate social responsibility (CSR), is this global practice of ‘winning friends’? Maraghy: CSR is very important for us and for the last six years, we are involved in the Department of Science and technology (DST)Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Programme, wherein our core engineering and development team has developed a relationship with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the University of Texas. Stanford University is also now a part of it. SP’s: What would be your suggestions to the Indian private sector? Maraghy: Be focused, have a vision, invest in people and provide the best technology. In every partnership, you need to communicate and have patience.