As Australia continues its historic peacetime build-up, Lockheed Martin is answering the call to ensure that the nation's next generation of naval warfare capability of Guided Missile Destroyers, Future Frigates and Future Submarines is capable of providing the uniquely Australian capability Defence needs and keeps Australian service men and women safe when they are deployed.
This capability also extends to the sovereign industry capability, which is at the core of the government's push to develop a robust, highly capable sovereign defence industry led by Australians, which Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) chief executive Vince Di Pietro said is an important objective for the company.
"It is important for us to be an Australian company, while we are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, we have an Australian chief executive, an Australian board and a proudly Australian workforce which has doubled in size."
Today, LMA employs over 1,000 people directly, with a presence in every mainland state and territory and 3,200 Australians in total supported by the company and, as Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said when handing down a report by KPMG: "For the year of 2016, Lockheed Martin Australia contributed an estimated $340 million to Australia's GDP."
These direct and indirect employees support the development of Australia's sovereign defence industrial capability, through involvement in advanced manufacturing, systems integration and other related high-technology industries which are critical to ensuring the viability of the nation's defence industry.
Maritime systems integration is one of the critical industry multipliers LMA has invested millions of dollars and man hours in developing to support a number of the Navy's critical platforms as they transition through the various stages of procurement, development and operation.
The Aegis combat system, currently installed upon the Hobart Class Guided Missile Destroyers and to be installed on the Navy's new Hunter Class Guided Missile Frigates, is one such example, enhancing the capability of a combat system that is currently in various stages of integration or operation across 107 ships, in nine individual classes with six different nations.
Aegis and the future submarine's combat system, the BYG-1, will provide a comprehensive and quantum surge in the capability afforded to the Navy.
Di Pietro explained, "If the integration of these individual systems is done correctly, Australia will enjoy a seamless operational experience with Aegis and the BYG-1 combat system, which will be installed with the SEA 1000 future submarines by Lockheed Martin Australia."
The LMA maritime combat systems enterprise consists of more than 180 engineers and technicians, who have enjoyed the flexibility of working for a locally driven, subsidiary of a truly multinational company.
Neale Prescott, director of business development for Lockheed Martin mission systems and training, said, "We have spent millions to ensure that Australian engineers and technicians are able to access the requisite skills, equipment and experience through the global company and partners like the United States Navy to ensure that knowledge and technology transfers are organic to help Australia develop its sovereign industry capability."
LMA's presence extends beyond the major defence hubs of Adelaide or Canberra. The company has focused on developing key relationships throughout regional Australia, particularly as new platforms are rolled out with the ADF. These platform roll outs, particularly in the case of the MH-60R Romeos, the Hobart Class and the coming arrival of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have provided LMA with the opportunity to invest in regional areas, including Nowra, East Sale, Williamtown and Townsville.
"We have an amazing relationship with regional Australia, in the Hunter, Nowra, Gippsland and Townsville, we also have our STELaRLab in Melbourne, which isn't regional but has helped us to develop relationships with key tertiary and vocational training organisations, which has seen us bring some skills to the areas and these areas bring skills to us, which has helped further the relationship we have with Australian industry," Di Pietro and Prescott both said.
With an eye on the future, Lockheed is leveraging its investment, history and expertise to help propel Australia's defence industry, while remaining in 'lockstep' with the government and its sovereign industry capability plan, Di Pietro said.
"What get's me out of bed in the morning is seeing the Lockheed Martin star on some of the most potently capable platforms this country has ever operated and the role we at Lockheed Martin Australia can play in furthering the development of a sovereign industry capability, that excitement is what get's me out of bed in the morning," he said.
Lockheed Martin Australia will provide the Aegis combat system for the Navy's new Hunter class Guided Missile Frigates, the BYG-1 combat system for the SEA 1000 future submarines and the Air Force's future air combat capability in the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the first of which arrive in Australia later this year.