Lockheed Martin says it wants to increase its South African footprint. The US planemaker’s EMEA vice president for international business development initiatives Dennys Plessas added his company “understood the word ‘partnering’.”
Plessas was briefing the SA defence media yesterday on Lockheed Martin’s products and avered that the stretched C130J-30 Super Hercules – in his view – best met the bulk of the South African Air Force’s transport requirements.”We believe, and this was confirmed by SAAF planners, that the aircraft hits the ‘sweet spot’ of airlift.”
Denel Aviation last year March become the world’s ninth accredited Lockheed Martin service centre for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of C-130 transport aircraft – and the first in Africa. “With some 140 of these aircraft (C-130 and its L100 civil version) in Africa, there is ample opportunity for Denel Aviation,” Denel Aviation then-CE Ismail Dockrat said.
Plessas confirmed that SA has a “very capable industry” that offers much in terms of cooperation. “We have a presence in SA”, he said with reference to the Denel tie-up, “we hope to make it significantly larger. … We are talking about the future as well.” Plessas said Lockheed Martin was keen to assist Denel and other companies to establish centres of excellence “for the entire continent and beyond.”
The Lockheed Martin executive added the company had a healthy order book and was further ramping up production. Initially 12 per annum, the number are now 27 and will soon be 36 a year. Possible co-production could include metal and composite aerostructures as well as other major, minor and local components. This could be a lifeline for Denel Saab Aerostructures that is about to shed 300 out of 670 jobs, most of them skilled. Plessas noted Lockheed Martin is currently discharging offset obligations worth US$60 billion. “We have never failed to deliver on any of our offset obligations,” he added.