Interview | Vice president and chief executive, Lockheed Martin India, William L. Blair

The JVs and partners we Have Established Over the Last Decade Have Generated Value… Lockheed Martin has Invested Over USD 100mn in Manufacturing Equipment, Tooling, IP at These JVs


William L. Blair

With the increasing focus on indigenous R&D and production, do you envisage a possibility of collaborating with an Indian public or private sector company for design and development?

Lockheed Martin continues to build upon its more than seven decades of association and three decades of partnership with India, expand collaborations with local industry to support the evolution of the indigenous defence and aerospace manufacturing ecosystem and advance India’s strategic security and industrial capabilities.

Our joint venture (JV) with Tata Advanced Systems Limited, Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited (TLMAL) in Hyderabad established over a decade ago produces major aerostructure components for the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft. This is the sole supplier of these components to Lockheed Martin and is an integral part of our global supply chain. To date, TLMAL has manufactured and delivered more than 180 C-130J empennages. Recently, the TLMAL was also recognised as a potential future co-producer of fighter wings. The increase in global demand for F-16, would, therefore, present an interesting opportunity for Indian entities like the TLMAL to be part of the fighter jet supply chain.

Our other JV, the Tata Sikorsky Aerospace Limited (TSAL), also established over a decade ago, manufactures aerospace components for commercial helicopters and aircraft and has expanded to include aircraft engine components for aerospace industry companies as well. It is also fully integrated into the global supply chain.

Hundreds of suppliers, including over 140 Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) feed into these two JVs and have benefited from the vision of Lockheed Martin and Tata working together. At present, more than 70 Indian suppliers have been integrated into Lockheed Martin’s global supply chain.

Lockheed Martin has worked with Ashok Leyland to develop the next-generation military vehicle for India and the global market. The vehicle has been field evaluated in various environmental conditions by Indian customers and has been selected by some of the military users in India. Nine vehicles were delivered to the Indian Air Force in 2021 with a follow-on order for more. The engineering support and the cooperative working relationship with Ashok Leyland was instrumental for the success of the development and production of indigenous equipment, another great example of the Make in India concept.

Lockheed Martin hosts an annual Suppliers Conference to engage with the Indian industry to build on the company’s existing foundation in India and identify additional strategic partners from across the country to include companies of all sizes, large, MSMEs and start-ups.

In 2021, we hosted the Hybrid Suppliers Conference in Bengaluru. 135 companies of all sizes participated in the conference and received the opportunity to showcase their company to key stakeholders from the government and industry. More than 250 delegates participated in person while more than 200 delegates participated virtually. The two-day conference also saw more than 110 business to business meetings being organised.

During the conference, Rossell Techsys was awarded a contract with Lockheed Martin to build Electrical Wire Harness and Interconnect System (EWIS) parts in support of Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R aircraft that are being supplied to the Indian Navy. As part of the contract received from Lockheed Martin, Rossell Techsys shall perform Build to Print (BTP) manufacture of the wire harnesses that will be installed on the MH-60R. Manufacture of these parts is being performed in the Centre of Excellence (COE), set up by Rossell Techsys for Lockheed Martin platforms. The manufacture of parts has commenced, with the first parts having successfully undergone acceptance by Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin also highlighted that the company is working with the US government to secure licenses to allow parts for the Legion-ES™ infrared search and track sensor system and Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod to be manufactured in India and has plans to start sending out requests for quotations before the end of the year.


Can you talk about your joint ventures in India and how are they helping in capacity building?

Through various business programmes over the last decade, Lockheed Martin has had the opportunity to engage and work with Indian companies and develop long-term potential business relationships. The JVs and partners we have established over the last decade have generated value. More than USD 600mn worth of exports have been generated by these JVs and produced over USD 200mn in Indian industry revenues. Lockheed Martin has invested over USD 100mn in manufacturing equipment, tooling, IP at these JVs.

In our endeavour to support the Prime Minister’s vision of self-reliance and Make in India, we are continuously working to increase the indigenous content being developed for the C-130J empennages manufactured at the TLMAL, which is now over 90% indigenous.

As a show of commitment and confidence that exists in our relationships with our partners in India, Lockheed Martin last year qualified the TLMAL to build one of the most technologically complex aerostructures, a fuel-carrying 9G, 12,000 hour, interchangeable/replaceable fighter wing with >70% detail parts indigenously produced.

Besides this, our TLMAL facility in Hyderabad gives impetus to the government’s skill India initiative by honing the skills of the young workforce (average age 25) through its diversity and inclusion programme and on-the-job training, necessary for the manufacture of components and aerostructures produced in the plants. More than 1,500 personnel have been trained to support current operations and provided skills in aerostructure manufacture through the life of the plant to date. These include personnel who now form part of the wider aerospace industry.

Since 2016, Lockheed Martin has been supporting efforts by the Women in Aviation International (India chapter) to expand the horizons of female students in India. During this time, Lockheed Martin has powered the Girls in Aviation Day (GIAD) initiative to promote STEM education and encourage young female students to pursue careers in aerospace industry.

Further, as a part of our larger commitment to enhance the growth and development of India’s innovation, Lockheed Martin has sponsored and supported the India Innovation Growth Programme (IIGP) since 2007. The IIGP has generated more than 400 business agreements and created over USD 1bn revenue for Indian start-ups and entrepreneurs.

F-21 India

Given the government acquisition policies, what is your focus in India, both in the medium and the long term?

India presents a tremendous opportunity for Lockheed Martin to build on our foundation here expanding in multiple domains to meet the customers mission needs. For Lockheed Martin, India provides opportunities to not just partner with the government in modernising the country’s armed forces but to also contribute to the country’s society and economy.

Currently, we have on offer the F-21 aircraft for the Indian Air Force’s 114 fighter-jet procurement programme. This is the most advanced 4th generation fighter we have ever offered. The F-21 will serve as a force multiplier for the IAF with an unmatched capability-to-cost ratio compared to the competition. In addition, the F-21 is equipped with state-of-the-art systems and sensors that would allow the IAF to detect, track and engage multiple targets in a contested environment.

The current and future state of warfare is and will be around gathering and sharing information across multiple domains (air, space, land, sea, and cyber) to make effective warfighting decisions as quickly as possible. The F-21 will be able to integrate across these domains and across Indian services to provide current and future relevance. Our F-21 offer is also Made in India, which addresses the goals of Aatmanirbhar Bharat while providing India with an improved security cooperation relationship with the United States. Furthermore, the F-21’s industrial offering will put India at the epicentre of the world’s largest fighter production and sustainment market creating thousands of new jobs in India.

Lockheed Martin also welcomed the Israeli Air Force as its first international customer to procure the Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter. The CH-53K helicopter is today’s safest, most capable, most reliable and most efficient heavy-lift rotorcraft solution. The all-new CH-53K delivers modern, state-of-the-art capabilities that result in improved survivability, safety and reduced aircrew workload over its predecessor. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is proud to manufacture the all-new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter at our production facility in Stratford, Connecticut, USA. We look forward to continuing conversations with potential international customers and we are confident that the CH-53K King Stallion is a highly capable and timely solution which will significantly improve the vertical lift capabilities of today.

From a missiles and fire control perspective, the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod and Infrared Search and Track (IRST21) will soon have licences to be made in India. We are working with the US government to secure these licences and anticipate sending quote requests soon.

We see tremendous opportunity to help India realise its space goals. India is a key contributor to the success of the global space community. Lockheed Martin is excited about the recent developments surrounding India Space and its willingness to open its facilities to support future cooperation and collaborative efforts within the space domain. Lockheed Martin is currently involved in every NASA mission to Mars. We pride ourselves on delivering mission assurance to all of our customers and look forward to providing this level of assurance for India Space in the future.


What are your various partnerships in India and what future do you see for them?

Lockheed Martin proudly celebrates its decades-long partnership with India and remains fully committed to advancing the Prime Minister’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. For Lockheed Martin, this means supporting the growth of an indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem in India, advancing the aerospace and start-up ecosystems and strengthening India’s strategic security and industrial capabilities.

At the Hybrid Suppliers Conference last year, Lockheed Martin announced its partnership with the Bengaluru-based Rossell Techsys for work on the company’s MH-60R helicopters to build Electrical Wire Harness and Interconnect System (EWIS) parts in support of Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R aircraft that are being supplied to the Indian Navy.

Further, at the same event, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems Global Supply Chain organisation and the Aegis Program Office recognised SASMOS HET Technologies Limited for its outstanding support, dedication and commitment to the success of the Aegis Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) programme.


Is there any ongoing talk regarding more C-130Js for the Indian military?

The C-130J continues to be a vital asset for the IAF demonstrating multi-mission capability with high availability in service. The IAF uses its fleet to support a variety of missions, from cargo delivery to providing vital humanitarian aid. In August 2021, the IAF awarded Lockheed Martin a USD 328.8mn five-year contract to provide dedicated and comprehensive support for the IAF’s fleet of 12 C-130J-30 Super Hercules Aircraft.

The IAF also extensively used its fleet of Super Hercules for humanitarian efforts in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and Afghanistan crisis for transportation of relief materials, equipment and personnel in the areas affected during Assam floods.

We would be happy to support the Indian government in the procurement of additional C-130Js, should there be an opportunity to do so.


By when will Lockheed Martin complete the delivery for MH-60R helicopters for the Indian Navy? Are any additional orders expected?

The Indian Navy’s acquisition of MH-60R Romeo helicopter is the largest contract Lockheed Martin has ever signed with India. Through the India MH-60R programme, Lockheed Martin is excited to work with Indian companies to further develop long-term potential business relationships.

The MH-60R Romeo is the most capable and mature Anti-Submarine (ASW)/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) multi-mission helicopter available in the world today. The MH-60R is deployed globally with the US Navy and a growing number of international navies. The MH-60R employs a modular design, which refers to the ability to modify weapon systems to match specific mission requirements. The modular design gives this single platform the agility to provide greater surveillance and flexibility capabilities, as well as more options for multiple mission requirements.

The first three MH-60R helicopters were delivered to India in the US in 2021 and are being utilised to train Indian pilots and crew members. In July/August 2022, the Indian Navy accepted the delivery of another three helicopters at the Kochi International Airport and they will be initially based at the Naval Air Station INS Garuda in Kochi. A total of 24 MH-60Rs will be delivered over the next few years.


How does Lockheed Martin aim at supporting India with new-age military requirements?

Lockheed Martin stands committed to addressing India’s requirements for a new-age military solution in the domains of air, land, sea, space and the cyber world in sync with the robust framework of fast-expanding Indo-US strategic ties. Given the company’s global footprint and expertise in advanced technology, we are well-placed to partner with Indian entities in areas of unmanned platforms, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and machine learning among others.

Advancements that support autonomous and optionally-piloted operations, like Sikorsky’s MATRIX™ Technology, will change the way aviators and air crew execute their missions, assisting when flying with a reduced crew or limited visibility. MATRIX is like a virtual second pilot that will help operators fly safely and confidently in dangerous and complex missions. It can leverage full authority flight control inputs for autonomous flight, including takeoff, route planning, obstacle avoidance, site selection and landing. MATRIX Technology will enable operators to fly more manned missions in adverse weather or restricted visibility, fly missions more effectively in complex and obstacle-rich environments, eliminate sources of pilot and operator error and reduce operating costs.


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