US-based Lockheed Martin (LM), the biggest arms manufacturing company of the world with an order book of over USD 47 Bn (FY 2017-2018), has said it is “committed to fostering” “India’s defence industry” through “game-changing defence partnerships.”
LM was judged to be the biggest arms and military service manufacturing company beating its competitors like Boeing and Northrop Grumman Corp by miles, according to a recently released report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The SIPRI is an international institute based in Sweden dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
Lockheed Martin has already offered the F-21 multi-role fighter exclusively to India and has also offered to produce it in India. Besides, LM also sources “major aerostructure components” for the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft─used on Super Hercules aircraft globally─from Tata Advanced Systems in Hyderabad with which it has a joint venture. Similarly, the Hyderabad-based joint venture also produces key components for the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for the S-92 commercial helicopter. The Indian Air Force uses the C-130J special operations enabled medium-lift tactical aircraft and the Indian Navy is all set to buy Mh-60 Naval Helicopters.
These bear “testimony to our contribution to the development of Indo-U.S. defence industrial partnership,” Vivek Lall, vice-president of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin, told IDD in an exclusive email interview.
The SIPRI report says that LM’s arms and “military service” order books added up to a staggering USD 47.3 Bn. In contrast, its nearest competitors Boeing and Northrop Grumman Corp stood at USD 29.2 Bn and 26.3 Bn respectively. Other competitors like Raytheon, General Dynamics and BAE Systems stood at 23.4 Bn, 22 Bn and 21. 2 Bn respectively.
“We are committed to fostering the growth of India’s defence industry well into the future. Building on our successful heritage of partnership with the C-130, S-92 programs, we’re dedicated to working closely with the Government of India to help position them as a strong ally and key player in global security and technology growth.” Lall said elaborating on Lockheed Martin’s commitment towards India and added, “the time is now to lean into game-changing defence partnerships.”
Elaborating on the Lockheed Martin’s engagement with India, Lall told IDD, “We have partnered with India for nearly three decades, working with the Indian armed forces, industry, and other key stakeholders to advance the strategic security and industrial capability of the country. We have currently integrated over 70 Indian suppliers including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) into our global supply chain.”
“The positive trend we’re seeing in US-India bilateral relations, particularly on the defence and security front” acts as a further enabler for the ties between the India and Lockheed Martin Lall said. According to him, “Successful joint ventures in India have been a key part of helping India achieve its goal of developing an aerospace and defence supplier ecosystem, promote indigenous manufacturing and participating in the global supply chain.”
Highlighting, Lockheed Martin’s offer to produce complex platforms in India, Lall told IDD, “Our partnership with the Indian industry on both the F-21 and S-76D (a multi-role helicopter) proposals for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy will put India at the epicentre of world’s largest defence ecosystem and deliver unmatched sustainment and export opportunities.”
Interestingly, since 2002, the “top five spots” for sale of military hardware “are held exclusively … companies based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics,” the report also said. The top five companies “alone accounted for $148 billion” or “35 per cent of total arms sales in 2018,” the report said. “Total arms sales of US companies in the ranking amounted to $246 billion, equivalent to 59 per cent of all arms sales by the Top 100. This is an increase of 7.2 per cent compared with 2017,” the SIPRI report concludes.