In just four years, Northrop Grumman Australia has grown from five staff members to over 550. Chief executive Ian Irving joined Defence Connect to discuss how the company has achieved this success in such short time frame.
After selling equipment to Australia for around 20 years, Irving said the Northrop Grumman CEO identified developing into an international player as a vital move for the company's long-term goals.
"Our CEO, Wes Bush, decided that Northrop was such a very successful big domestic defence industry prime and really needing to globalise, really needing to become an international player," Irving began.
"We identified a number of focus countries around the world where we've got good linkage with the United States, where our portfolio resonates with the national security needs – Australia was one of those."
And while expanding for the sake of expanding has sometimes been the standard approach of multibillion-dollar US firms, this was not the end goal in the case of Northrop's Australian expansion, but rather contributing to the very fabric of the nation's industry.
"We decided that we really needed to respond to what our customers were asking of us and that was to not just be able to supply the tremendous portfolio that we have available to us but also then become part of the industry fabric of those countries, to provide not just systems into the warfighters but provide an industrial solution, industrial capability and national security outcomes for the country," Irving said.
"A completely different approach than we had in the past."
And the release of the 2016 Defence Industry White Paper and Defence Industry Policy Statement has only gone further in instilling confidence that the expansion has been a masterful move.
"I think it really resonates with what our current government is saying about developing local defence industry and being able to establish sovereign capabilities through the investment that's coming into these military platforms," said Irving.
"The growing market in expenditure and defence systems that we could see coming, that's now come with the new defence industry plan and the new white paper, really settles the market conditions.
"It was a very good opportunity for us to invest where we would be able to make a great contribution. I think that's bearing out. I think our success over the last four years is on the right trajectory."
And while the aerospace and security leaders are revelling in their success so far, the firm is confident there is ample potential to come and has outlined its plans moving forward.
"We see the similar kind of growth going forward and our ability to really be in a position, I think, to supply some of the things that Australia's really needing in the next two decades," Irving said.
"We're focused on establishing capabilities and doing things that are really the future of national security. Cyber security, C4I networking, fifth generation communications, unmanned systems and autonomous systems, where these are really things that Australia hasn't had available to it in the past. What we want to do is access our US portfolio and establish local competence in Australians to take those programs forward."
Northrop Grumman Australia recently announced it will build a $50 million ‘centre of excellence’ at the new Badgerys Creek airport in Western Sydney.
Northrop Grumman was named as the fifth-largest defence contractor in the world in 2015. The company employs over 68,000 people across the world.