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Lockheed Martin on a steady expansion drive in India

New Delhi. When Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first flight recently, the company in India has forayed into new arenas, post selling twelve C-130J Super Hercules worth billions of dollars. A front runner in supporting innovations in India, the American aerospace major has expanded it’s interests to training airline pilots and has it’s eyes set on starting a MRO in India in the near future.

The Flight Simulation Training Centre (FSTC) in Gurgaon – a joint venture (JV) between Lockheed Martin and it’s Indian partner Flywings , Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 pilots are trained for airlines on Lockheed Martin simulators. “ After having obtained full Type Rating Training Organisation (TRTO) certification from the DGCA, FSTC has been awarded an EASA certification recently. They signed up an agreement with a foreign airline to do the Airbus A320 simulator training for the pilots. Foreign pilots will be trained here. It will be the only centre to do so in India,” proudly claimed Phil Shaw, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin India, in an exclusive interview to India Strategic.

He added optimistically that once 20 C-130J aircraft of various types are flying in India, setting up a local MRO facility will become commercially viable. An MRO facility in India would service not just the IAF fleet, but also regional C-130J users, like, Malaysia, Singapore, the UAE Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Tunisia. The aerospace major is very confident of the updated civilian version of its C-130J Super Hercules transport and says the LM-100J Super Hercules should achieve its first flight in 2017 and expects to receive FAA certification by 2018, following a one-year flight test programme.

Shaw was upbeat after the last Defence acquisition Council meeting held in New Delhi in August end. “ It was good news for Apache in the last DAC and we are thrilled to see a decision made supporting the case. We support Boeing and the US government. The HELLFIRE II modular missile system provides multi-mission, multi-target capability with precision-strike lethality and fire-and-forget survivability, giving field commanders maximum operational flexibility,” he explained.

The MH-60R ‘Romeo’ manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp and equipped with advanced mission systems and sensors by Lockheed Martin has been in fray for the Indian Navy’s requirement. “MH-60R we think it is a serious contender and will be able to meet the need of the Indian Navy. We have been expecting a RFP hopefully soon,” he added.

Not at all skeptic of the capabilities of the C-130J, despite the crash earlier this year, “We are confident that C130 is a very safe platform , is rugged and flies in all kinds of environment. We have seen it in a humanitarian role recently in Jammu & Kashmir floods and are very optimistic of it’s multi faceted capabilities suiting the Indian needs. We are getting ready for the next batch and are confident of delivery on time and in budget,” he said.

With growing emphasis on home land security needs by the Government of India, Lockheed Martin is engaged in dialogue with an Indian partner for border control technology and with MHA for command &control, surveillance and coastal and border protection needs.

India’s Tata Motors, along with Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, have developed an infantry combat vehicle that could compete for India’s Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) if the program is relaunched. For the FICV Lockheed is engaged in dialogues with Indian companies on turret integration. The prototype is integrated with a Raytheon-Lockheed Javelin anti-tank guided missile system.

“Lockheed Martin is looking at the Indian UAV market and has multiple product offerings – airships, hand-held UAVs, small unmanned aircraft systems, unmanned cargo-lifting as the K-Max helicopter, etc. We are aware of the Indian requirement and we will offer our capabilities accordingly,” he said.

Speaking on the new government in Delhi Shaw exhuded, “We are very optimistic of the change in the government in India. We are pleased to see the relaxation to 49% in FDI. It is definitely a step in the right direction. It is a positive move and the government has indicated publicly that they will allow 100% FDI with state of the art technology, on a case to case basis. Any country would demand the same on matters which have national security implications.” Their optimism though is wrapped in a little bit of caution and the company is waiting to see how soon pending projects get the green signal.

In the joint venture with Tatas it has 26 per cent equity and the programme is doing well. For higher technologies which need to be transferred it hopes the FDI norms will be relaxed even beyond the recently announce 49% . It is happy that the Government of India has announced that it would be looked at on a case to case basis. A relaxation to the FDI cap would provide more incentive to companies with a lot of IPR invested into the higher technologies. It is aggressively exploring opportunities to develop joint ventures (JV) with small and medium enterprises in India. The approach internationally is one of persistent presence, partnership and investment in the India, for India’s development and a global market.

In addition to the traditional presence the company has in defence and security, Lockheed Martin has forayed into the renewable energy sector, by setting up a plant to generate 2.5 megawatts (MW) of energy from municipal waste, partnering with Blue Concord for Pune Municipal Corporation. From being a aerospace and defence giant, Lockheed Martin is tapping new areas and creating a new profile in India.

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