The United States of America has reacted to large-scale investment in military and aerospace technology in Africa by competitors including Russia and China, by bringing a large team to the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2016 exhibition.
US dignitaries included Ambassador Patrick Gaspard and US Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, Heidi Grant, among others. The delegation represented almost 30 key industry players, including Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and the State of Maryland, one of 50 that make up the United States. The state is home to many historic places and institutions, including the US Naval College in the state capital, Annapolis.
The US Air Force (USAF) has brought the C-17 Globemaster III, the latest model C-130J Hercules medium transport and the KC-135 Stratotanker air-to-air refueller and the MQ-9 Reaper UAV.
Ambassador Gaspard said: “I have to say that, though we are advancing the impressive wares that US companies have come with, this also presents a remarkable opportunity to sow the seeds of growth here in Africa as well, I want to remind everyone that this trade runs to both sides of the Atlantic. It’s absolutely remarkable that American companies like Boeing are able to partner with South African firms like Thompsons to create opportunity in this growing manufacturing sector and it is also remarkable that South African companies like Aerosud that are based here in Pretoria are growing industry, transforming the next generation of industry leaders.”
Paul Ausley, CEO of Terraview 360, a UAV manufacturer, said: “To us, Africa is a huge opportunity and without Maryland’s help we would never get exposure to it.”
Jessica Reynolds, Regional Manager for the state’s investment and trade, said of her small state: “Not only are we close to Washington D.C. and have 20-plus federal facilities but we also are top in terms of federal funding so that attracts a lot of the top talent, in all industries but particularly in defence so research and development is really one of the top areas.”
The delegation spoke of their potential target markets. Reynolds said: “So of course South Africa’s very high up there especially in terms of aerospace and defence just because of the capabilities in the country. Broadly – not necessarily industry specific – Nigeria is also a top focus for Maryland because we have a pretty strong Nigerian population and other countries of interest would be in East Africa would be Ethiopia, Kenya.”
Tom Jarboe, also of Ausley Unmanned Aviation, added: “In our county in southern Maryland we have about 300 defence contractors…We’re trying to take what we do extremely well and also expand it into a global presence in defence but also look at how to migrate the technology into commercial applications too.”
Some of the companies at the US International Pavilion, organised by Kallman Worldwide Inc, include Harris, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin and Rockwell Collins.