Simon Levy talks to Peter Ruddock FRAeS, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin UK
You are now over your first year as Chief Executive having taken over from Stephen Ball. What has been the greatest challenge in your new role and how will you be building on the success and legacy Stephen leaves behind?
I was fortunate to work closely with Stephen before taking on the role in January and he was a great mentor to me. That meant I was familiar with 90% of the job, which a huge bonus and not one that many share when assuming a new responsibility of this nature.
Like most roles at this level there’s a lot to do. We introduced a significant amount of change at the same time I took over, including the separation of part of our business to Leidos – so the breadth and depth of work required is a challenge, albeit one I’m relishing.
The Lockheed Martin values are simple but powerful and they give an easy focus to the role: respecting others; doing what’s right for our customers; and making sure I and my team perform with excellence. If I can do these things and lead a team that does the same, then I’m confident that we will build on Stephen’s legacy.
Having acquired Sikorsky what changes have you seen and what is on the horizon now that they are a Lockheed Martin Company?
I’m really pleased Sikorsky is now a Lockheed Martin company. We have a shared legacy of innovation and performance and have been shaping the history of aviation for more than a century. Together we are even better positioned to provide best value for our customers, our employees and for our shareholders.
The S-92 is a state of the art helicopter and it is doing a superb job; we also have the honour of flying Her Majesty The Queen in a Sikorsky helicopter. I had to eject from a Hunter that was on fire many years ago and ended up in the sea about 20-miles off the coast; the Whirlwind helicopter that picked me up had to dump fuel before it could rescue me but I have never forgotten that moment nor the critical role that our Search and Rescue helicopters play in the life of our nation. We currently have fourteen S-92s supporting HM Coastguard and Search and Rescue operations and the capability they provide is second to none.
There is a tremendous amount of excitement and positivity regarding the F-35 and that has accelerated since RIAT and Farnborough."
F-35 made a huge impact at RIAT and Farnborough International last year. Has it now turned a corner in convincing doubters?
There is a tremendous amount of excitement and positivity regarding the F-35 and that has accelerated since RIAT and Farnborough. This momentum is only going to build further as we get closer to the first F-35’s flying operationally from RAF Marham and then from the hugely impressive Queen Elizabeth class carriers.
I think the other point really worth making is how mature the programme is now. There are more than 350 pilots, flying 200 jets, with more than 70,000 flight test hours behind them. This is a jet that’s ready to be deployed in combat for both the US Air Force and the US Marine Corps. In the next five years, more than half the F-35’s to be delivered will go to international customers outside the United States.
I’ve flown more than thirty different aircraft types, including a number of the fourth generation fighters, and the thing that impresses me above everything else is the incredible situational awareness the F-35 affords. It is like going from night to day compared to what our pilots have flown previously.
What opportunities still exist in the UK for British industry to play a part in the programme? (avionics support, simulation, training etc)
Well, we’ve just seen the announcement that the UK will be a global repair hub for the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade of avionic and aircraft components. This is a huge prize for the UK and will result in a significant amount of additional work taking place here, centred at Sealand in north Wales.
As Lockheed Martin, in concert with other UK Industry partners, we’ll be providing UK programme support for training, maintenance, supply and F-35 information systems and there’s also significant opportunities to mature some of the impressive fifth generation C4ISR capabilities and to integrate these with other UK platforms.
What discussions have you had with MoD over the full buy (138) of F-35s. Could these be split between F-35Bs and F-35As?
The commitment to 138 aircraft was restated in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and is great news for the F-35 and really underlined the UK’s position and status in the programme. We are focussed on delivering the B-model; however, if there is a desire by the MoD to split the variants in the future we’ll be able to support that request.
What type of support will Lockheed Martin offer and supply to the UK’s F-35 fleet once they have entered active service?
We’re the Industry Product Support Integrator to provide sustainment for the F-35 Programme and we work in conjunction with the Joint Program Office on this. Here in the UK that means Lockheed Martin working in concert with other industry partners to provide support for training, maintenance, supply and information systems.
Will UK-specific F-35B weapons (PIV, Meteor, SPEAR 3) be available to other F-35 customers?
That’s not a question I can answer, I’m afraid.
The C-130 Hercules has been in production now for over 60 years. Will it ever retire and can it still compete with more modern aircraft now on the market?
It’s an aircraft that has redefined airlift capabilities for more than 60 years. It’s the world’s workhorse today and I think that’s going to remain the case for the foreseeable future. We’re continuing to identify new ways to make the Hercules even more relevant and valuable to our customers in the military and commercial sectors. Both France and Germany are buying the C-130J and there’s the new LM-100J commercial version coming along, so the aircraft is going from strength to strength.
A C-130 crew came to my aid in the Falkland Islands many years ago, providing fuel when there was nowhere to land, and the horrendous weather made ejecting unappealing. So I have a special place in my heart for this remarkable aircraft, it’s unique. It can tackle missions that other airlifters can’t, don’t or won’t and that’s going to be the case for a long while yet.
LM UK is the prime contractor for Crowsnest AEW for the RN. Is this still on schedule? When might we see the first Merlin Crowsnest helicopter enter service?
We’re in the final stages of negotiations with the Ministry of Defence for the demonstration and manufacture contract, so I can’t say a lot more than that at the moment, but we’re looking forward to completing these negotiations soon.
Hellfire has been the anti-tank missile of choice for many years. Do you see a big battle between its successor JAGM and MBDAs Brimstone II to equip UK Apache AH-64Es?
It’s our air-to-ground missile that’s currently fielded on the Apache helicopter, and Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) integration onto the Apache is fully funded and underway as part of the JAGM Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. This, along with the low recurrent cost, means that our family of weapons – current and future – provide outstanding value when compared to alternative options and this is key to helping achieve true value for the British taxpayer.
How is Brexit and the activation of Article 50 predicated to shape Lockheed Martin’s footprint in Europe and the UK?
I think it’s really too early to say at present, but we’re committed to the UK – and to Europe – and I’m extremely proud of the highly skilled workforce we have here in the UK. We’ve not seen a direct impact to date, but then more than 90% of our supply chain is also UK based.
What steps are you planning to take to engage and recruit more apprentices in the next couple of years?
I’m really proud of our work to encourage future generations of talent through apprenticeships. We’ve made a commitment as a member of the 5% Club to see that 5% of our UK workforce over the next five years will be young people on structured training schemes.
What is being done to encourage recent graduates to seek employment or continue their higher education under the guidance of Lockheed Martin?
I recently had the pleasure of spending the morning with our 2016 intake of graduates and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they progress in the next two years. We’re doing everything we can to reach the cream of British graduates – but it’s a competitive field. Where we have an advantage is in the breadth of the work we can offer, the opportunity to work on some truly innovative programmes. It’s encouraging that we consistently score highly with third party assessments, being highly ranked as an ‘Attractive Employer’ by Universum for example.
We know our graduates are good – and so does the Royal Aeronautical Society! One of our graduate engineers, Alex Godfrey, has just been awarded the Society’s 2016 Young Person Achievement Award. As a Fellow of the Society myself, I’m thrilled for Alex.
What’s the next major project for Lockheed Martin in the UK following the delivery of F-35?
We’re not losing sight of the F-35 just yet, this programme will be around for a long time! As one example, we’re responsibility for helping get RAF Marham ready for the arrival of the F-35 and the new facilities are developing at pace.
The Government’s prosperity agenda is really important and we’re doing everything we can to support that, whether that’s searching out export opportunities or the potential for creating British jobs on future programmes such as the new Mechanised Infantry Vehicle.
We’re also keen to expand our role in promoting space exploration from the UK and Europe. We’re supporting the UK and European Space Agencies and having a presence at the UK Space Agencies ‘Catapult’ in Harwell is exciting.
Where do you see the biggest growth areas for LM’s business in the UK? (eg, space, cyber, UAVs)
Every single one of the areas you cite as an example has the potential for growth and we’ve got talented people looking at each of them. On unmanned technology, we’ve just taken part in the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise and the scale and pace of change that unmanned technology will bring to defence is quite incredible. There’s one area you haven’t mentioned that we also see as having significant potential for growth – and that’s energy; we have a great deal to offer in this area, be it waste-to-energy or micro-grids.
LM is obviously well known for its defence products and F-35 – what’s the most surprising product or unusual area of business that LM UK is involved with?
As I just mentioned, I think a lot of people would find it surprising that we’ve an interest in energy. However at its core, the energy challenge is an engineering challenge and that’s what we do best. We have the world’s best engineers and technologists focused on energy innovation.
We’ve just announced a teaming agreement with CoGen to develop energy-from-waste projects in the UK, starting with a new plant in Cardiff, Wales. That’s going to be a facility that will convert waste into up to 15 megawatts (MW) of energy, enough to power about 15,000 homes and businesses in the local area by processing 150,000 tonnes of waste per year.
Alongside energy-from-waste, there’s tremendous potential in UK tidal energy and we’re looking at this too – they’re fascinating areas to be applying expertise to.