Lockheed Martin’s vice president of international business, Ray Piselli, announced on Tuesday that the company is investing $1 billion to help Saudi Arabia manufacture military equipment.
As part of the country’s multi-billion-dollar transformation plan “Vision 2030,” Lockheed will collaborate with local companies and the government to develop indigenous systems for the military.
Lockheed chief executive Joseph Rank said that the aerospace giant plans to develop missile defense systems in cooperation with the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries and Saudi Arabian Military Industries.
“The threats today and tomorrow are going to be drones and missiles coming into the kingdom,” he told Arab News. “So, the focus of our efforts is to help them enhance their defense.”
Rank added that the Middle Eastern country is one of the world’s largest consumers of defense equipment, so “it only makes sense for them to produce their systems” locally.
In addition to missile systems, the firm will help Saudi Arabia produce and maintain counter-drone systems and critical command and control.
Creating Export Market
In 2021, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute revealed that Saudi Arabia had the sixth-largest defense budget in the world for 2020.
The country was reportedly responsible for roughly 2.9 percent of all military spending globally.
With the help of Lockheed and the launch of “Vision 2030,” which calls for the government to spend half of its military budget locally, the nation is expected to create an export market and see itself included in global supply chains.
In the meantime, Lockheed has started offering internship programs at Saudi Arabia universities to create an ecosystem of defense research and development on campus.
Rank explained that the programs would teach young Saudis to handle complex defense and mechanical challenges such as sustaining, repairing, and eventually designing their own systems.