With more than 120 Hercules aircraft operational in Africa as well as numerous F-16s in certain North African countries, Lockheed Martin’s new international division will devote both time and energy to the continent.
Lockheed Martin International will, according to the company’s chief executive officer and president Marillyn Hewson, be an essential component in terms of engagement with and listening to customers to meet their national security and economic development needs.
Dennys Plessas, vice president business development initiatives for Lockheed Martin, said the emergence of the new arm within Lockheed Martin was good for existing African customers.
“There are more than 120 Hercules aircraft operating in Africa, both C-130 and L-100 variants. In addition in North Africa Lockheed Martin has F-16s in countries such as Egypt and Morocco while Tunisia has taken delivery of its first C-130J.
“There are many C-130J initiatives aiming at modernising and recapitalising both in maritime patrol, border patrol (ISR), and pure logistics tactical/strategic airlift configurations underway,” the man who is based in Athens but spends most of his time in Africa said.
One of those is for the replacement of the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) C-130BZs. These aircraft marked 50 years in service in South Africa at the beginning of this month.
A team from Lockheed Martin has been in dialogue with the SAAF for more than two years about replacement of 28 Squadron’s venerable C-130BZs.
“We have had discussions and presented any number of analyses based on SAAF taskings because we know, just as the air force does, that the BZs cannot carry on forever. While the aircraft have provided exceptional service to South Africa along with those responsible for flying and maintaining them no aircraft can carry on indefinitely,” he said.
The Lockheed Martin team, which has been talking to the SAAF about its airlift needs, is recommending a minimum of six and a maximum of eight C-130Js to properly handle the multiple tasks demanded of airlifters in the current tight financial situation.
“Financial constraints are very much part and parcel of every business, including acquiring new military hardware,” said Steve Piggott, director business development for Lockheed’s international air mobility programmes.
“This is why we see the C-130J as being the aircraft to operate rather than acquiring an air force.”