Australian defence personnel and business representatives are highly regarded in the US, says Vince Howie – aerospace and defense director at Oklahoma’s Department of Commerce.
Howie told Defence Connect that during his entire career – which included nearly three decades with the US Air Force – he had noted how Australian defence professionals were invariably respected and welcomed throughout the services.
"I spent 29 years in the Air Force; it made me equivalent to a brigadier general," he said. "When I was in the Pentagon, I had an Aussie officer who worked with me."
"At Tinker Air Force Base [in Oklahoma City] where I spent 19 of my 29 years, the largest maintenance repair and overhaul facility in the world for DoD, we have Australian exchange officers there. [They’re] always very professional, great personalities and the best guys to go have a beer with."
Howie said that across the board, Australian defence companies and their representatives had made a huge positive impact in the US market.
Specifically, he underlined the success of the US expansion on the part of Brisbane-headquartered engineering firm Ferra, which has won supply contracts with high-profile US aerospace companies including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
"Because of Ferra, knowing what a world-class company that is, I think the reputation is very good," Howie said. "Especially in companies that are in the defence and aerospace industry."
"If you're not a top notch company in aerospace you don't survive," he stressed. "This is not a something where somebody can slack off or not have the right technology [or choose] not to do the follow-up or the maintenance. You won't survive in this industry."