Interview with Thomas Gottschild and Frank A. St. John
As defence needs rise in response to growing threats around the globe, industry partnerships have increasingly become a strategic way to meet unique customer requirements. MONCh, aka ILA Defence Show Dailies spoke to Thomas Gottschild, Managing Director of MBDA Deutschland and Frank A. St. John, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, to discuss the companies’ decades long partnership and learn how they’re using their collective capabilities to strengthen defence solutions for the German customer.
MONCh: Lockheed Martin and MBDA Deutschland have demonstrated an enduring partnership. Why has this partnership been so successful?
T. Gottschild: MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control entered into partnership with primary responsibility to develop designs and technology for a new air and missile defence capability. We are now using the results and experiences from that effort to develop the MEADS-based TLVS, the most advanced air and missile defence system. In many cases, we needed to invent solutions to ensure cooperation could take place. We knew if we succeeded as partners and employers, the program was going to succeed. But there was no template for having resident foreign nationals in classified US contractor facilities – or for Lockheed Martin personnel at MBDA. Could there be an industrial transatlantic classified data network? The success of our partnership grew from being tested and overcoming obstacles. And we knew that if we wanted to have a program, we needed to champion it on both sides of the Atlantic and vocally reinforce our decision to pursue it cooperatively. We really got to know each other over the years, and in that time, we learned that we could truly depend on each other. As a result, TLVS is the only proven networked, mobile, 360-degree air and missile defence system, and that system’s technology is what underpins the TLVS joint venture we announced in March. Working together, we are on a path to deliver requirements-driven, next-generation, integrated air and missile defence capabilities to the German customer that will address the threats of today, and tomorrow.
MONCh: Lockheed Martin is one of the largest defence companies in the world. Why does partnership matter to you? One would think that your company has the capability to compete successfully without it.
F. A. St. John: Our world continues to change. Threats have multiplied, and no nation has the immediate capability to address every area of concern. To protect soldiers, citizens and infrastructure, governments need highly advanced integrated air and missile defence systems to defeat a range of threats. Defence cooperation recognizes that western nations and allies can better protect themselves through interoperability and open system architectures. 360-degree missile defence is now an indispensable element of global security. The threat demands it.Facing these changing dynamics, we have worked very hard to demonstrate that Lockheed Martin is a capable and reliable partner whenever countries have made an investment in their security. Our partnership with MBDA Deutschland exemplifies the benefits of such efforts. The power of teamwork is that we make each other more complete to provide even more value to our customer.
Partnership is not new for us. Lockheed Martin has had a long-term strategic partnership with the Federal Armed Forces, as well as the German aviation and defence industries, going back more than 50 years. Our industry partners have played a critical role in the development of TLVS. Germany and Italy funded nearly half of the development costs required to establish the technical baseline for TLVS. That is significant, and it’s just one example of the kind of shared commitment that makes this industry partnership exemplary.
Today, TLVS is the only mobile, fully 360-degree capable system with an open network-centric architecture and the lethality of hit-to-kill accuracy. It will also be the first air and missile defence system that can take full advantage of PAC-3 MSE capability. TLVS represents an important next-generation product that will transform German industry, its defence capabilities and enable the NATO Framework Nation to set an important precedent in how neighboring nations address current and evolving threats for decades to come.
MONCh: You recently formed a joint venture company for the TLVS programme. What is the significance of that announcement?
T. Gottschild: The German customer has expressed continued commitment to TLVS. Similarly, our joint venture represents our shared commitment to delivering TLVS. The joint venture is expected to act as the single prime contractor and focuses the resources of two industry leading defence companies to ensure the German customer receives the most advanced air and missile defence. The joint venture legally solidifies the long-term history of transatlantic industrial cooperation between MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin. Through it we will use the results and experiences from the MEADS program to secure a contract with BAAINBw and jointly pursue TLVS. With Germany as our customer, it is important for the Ministry of Defence to rely on a strong industrial setup. Together with the MBDA Group, our shareholders and the entire Lockheed Martin organization, the joint venture has the depth and technological expertise to realize TLVS for Germany. We are prepared to receive and respond to the German government’s TLVS acquisition process as one team, and are committed to using our partnership, along with other German suppliers, to provide the much-needed capabilities of the TLVS system.
MONCh: Why would the MoD want you to formalise your partnership through a joint venture?
F. A. St. John: The Federal Republic of Germany will benefit from this industrial arrangement. Because of the shared responsibility and combined management structure, the joint venture provides for more integrated decision-making and offers full access to the expertise and resources of Lockheed Martin and MBDA to support this critically important program. It also gives us direct access to the most advanced test and simulation facilities available and the largest team of Integrated Air and Missile Defence experts in the world. Similarly, the joint venture will help facilitate critical interactions with the U.S. government.
MONCh: How will this joint venture support the local economy (jobs)? If so, what type of job growth should we expect to see in the local economy?
T. Gottschild: The joint venture aligns Lockheed Martin’s Air and Missile Defence capabilities with a strategic NATO Framework Nation to support significant high-tech job growth, while helping Germany meet its annual commitment to defence spending. We expect to add hundreds of jobs in Germany and the United States because of this joint venture.
MONCh: Will the joint venture reduce the price of the offer?
F. A. St. John: We believe this joint venture will provide the best value to the German customer and we continue to make progress toward contract negotiations. We respect the complexity of the negotiations process and are committed to working with the Bundeswehr to meet Germany’s technical, industry and related requirements for TLVS. We believe the depth and scope of the joint venture and our industrial partnership will produce a competitive offering and beneficial synergies for MBDA Germany and Lockheed Martin. It will also positively benefit current and future organizations supporting subcontract work, once negotiations are finalised and a contract is awarded. Our shared expertise will benefit local industry and deliver the defence capabilities required to address modern, evolving threats now and in the future. We are excited about taking our partnership with MBDA Germany to the next level and look forward to working together to transform Germany’s defence capabilities.
MONCh: Thank you.