Speaking at the annual banquet of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last evening, Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson said that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US must be “more integrated, better equipped and more far-sighted than ever before” adding that “the need for strong friendships and decisive technologies was greater than ever”.
Rightly so, the Royal Aeronautical Society Annual Banquet is regarded as one of the most important and significant occasions in the year for those in the defence and aerospace industry, the military and Society members. This year was no exception and the event was attended by the ‘great and good’ of the defence and aerospace world. The address from Marillyn Hewson was the icing on the cake. In these problematical times I take the view that this address was not only very timely but also that it could not have been more apt. For the record and particularly for those who were not able to be present at this splendid event I repeat the address below:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
It’s a pleasure to join you for this year’s Royal Aeronautical Society Banquet. Decades before the advent of powered flight, the Royal Aeronautical Society had its eyes set on the skies above. Today, your bold focus on the future continues.
The Royal Aeronautical Society brings together leaders and visionaries from around the globe, from across the military, and from business and academia. In bringing us together, you continue to drive the innovations that are advancing our pioneering endeavors in air and space.
Of course, the role of the Society goes beyond just invention and ingenuity. You uphold a tradition of inquiry that works to put technology at the service of our highest ideals of human dignity and human aspiration. For this reason, I’m deeply honored to be here to speak on behalf of the 100,000 women and men of Lockheed Martin.
I am especially grateful to speak to you as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. We gather here in freedom and good-will thanks to their bravery, service, and sacrifice.
Tonight, in the tradition of this gathering, I want to focus on how we can build a brighter future.
In 1946, Winston Churchill famously coined the term “the special relationship” to describe the bond between our nations, a bond built on freedom, self-determination, and a respect for the rule of law.
We know from our shared history that these values need to be upheld and reinforced.
They must be protected, and they must be defended. From our global perspective at Lockheed Martin, the world needs the strength and the example of this “special relationship” more than ever.
The threats that peaceful nations face are evolving and accelerating at a rate that we have not seen since the foundation of our friendship centuries ago. In such an uncertain and unpredictable environment, it falls to us to sustain and strengthen the “special relationship” to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
That’s why, tonight, I’d like to talk to you about three ways our company is working to do our part to support the United Kingdom and be a bridge between our two nations. First, I want to discuss the historic roots for our company’s relationship with the United Kingdom.
Next, I’ll explain how we are working today to support British national security on land, on sea, in the air, and in space and how our work together is driving job creation and economic growth in the United Kingdom.
And finally, I’ll talk about the critical importance of pressing forward technological discoveries to strengthen cooperation and progress. The story of Lockheed Martin and the United Kingdom goes back to 1938. Nazi Germany had just annexed Austria, and democratic nations were beginning to realize the sinister ambitions of Adolph Hitler.
In response, the British Purchasing Commission turned to America’s aviation industry to augment British production of maritime patrol aircraft. Lockheed had only five days of advance notice of their visit, but the team quickly completed a mock-up. The Commission asked for some additional design revisions to meet Royal Air Force requirements. Lockheed gladly made them, and the Hudson Bomber was born.
The initial order for the Hudson called for 250 of these aircraft to be built in just 18 months.
Eventually, total production reached nearly 3,000 aircraft, making the Hudson production line the third largest in Lockheed Martin history. When the first aircraft was delivered in February 1939, the United States was still technically neutral. So, the aircraft had to be delivered covertly through Canada. Many of you may have seen reference to this extraordinary gambit in the recently-released movie “The Darkest Hour.”
To comply with U.S. law, the Hudson’s were flown to North Dakota and landed on U.S. soil. After that, they were then towed north, one by one, by mules into Canada. The Hudson’s could then be flown to Royal Canadian Air Force facilities, and from there, they were transported by ship to England. The versatile Hudson’s went on to be used to hunt enemy submarines, provide coastal reconnaissance, and conduct search and rescue for downed RAF aviators and others.
The Hudson was also the first aircraft of American design to down an enemy aircraft during World War II. But this “island home and fortress,” as Churchill called Great Britain, wasn’t the only thing the Hudson helped save. The $25 million dollar order from the British Purchasing Commission saved Lockheed from bankruptcy.
It put a struggling U.S. aviation company on the path to be a major contributor in the global defense of freedom for decades to come. In fact, the leadership and workers of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and its subsidiary, Vega Works, were so grateful for the order that, when Great Britain stood alone against the Nazi menace, and its reserves of U.S. dollars were dwindling, employees willingly donated their own money to pay for an additional Hudson to send to the Royal Air Force as a thank you.
On the side of the aircraft were painted the words the “Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees.”
It was delivered on Christmas Day, 1940.
Nearly eight decades later, our company is still grateful for the opportunity to partner with the British government, British industry, and the British people.
And, although our two nations do not face a single totalitarian adversary any longer, the need for strong friendships and decisive technologies continues.
Today, our peoples look out on a wider range of threats – threats that are increasingly volatile, unpredictable, and intercontinental.
At Lockheed Martin, we believe that to meet these geopolitical realities “the special relationship” must be more integrated, better equipped, and more far-sighted than ever before.
Nothing better represents this technological leadership and integration than the F-35 Lightning II.
Since the first days of the Joint Strike Fighter program, our nations have worked side-by-side to develop and deploy the world’s most advanced 5th-generation multi-role fighter.
And this summer we will be proud to join you in celebrating the arrival of the Royal Air Force’s F-35s at RAF Marham.
As the world is learning the F-35 is a revolutionary technology with its speed, stealth, sensor fusion, and processing power.
It doesn’t just transform an air force. It is a force multiplier that transforms a nation’s armed forces – and its alliances.
Simply put, the far-reaching impact of the F-35 program would not be possible without allied cooperation. It would not be possible without the United Kingdom.
Fifteen percent of every aircraft in the F-35 fleet is produced by British industry.
Of course, many of you already know this. Yet, Lockheed Martin’s partnership with the United Kingdom goes far beyond the F-35 – touching land, sea, air, space, and cyber.
At our site in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, our state-of-the-art facilities provide advanced manufacturing for the U.K.’s armored-fighting vehicles, turret systems, and vehicle-systems integration. Hundreds of highly-skilled engineers work on the British Army’s AJAX armored-vehicle program.
At our Havant site, we’re also working to deliver the Royal Navy’s new airborne surveillance and control system, CROWSNEST which will provide vital surveillance and intelligence capabilities from the Merlin MK2 helicopter for the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
These capabilities will serve as an important part in the U.K.’s carrier-enabled power projection.
Our ability to support the United Kingdom and our allies also reaches out into space, where, over our history, we have launched more than 800 satellites.
These satellites share information across the globe provide critical military intelligence and enable accurate weather tracking.
And as space becomes a more contested environment, we will need to ensure peaceful nations are being protected by these advanced and flexible technologies.
Our contributions to national security also extend to the U.K.’s economy.
Our strategic partnerships and industrial collaboration contribute £1 billion pounds annually to the British economy and support more than 1,000 companies in the supply chain.
With 16 key sites, Lockheed Martin U.K. now employs approximately 1,700 people.
These relationships across programs and across the nation provide the opportunity for us to strengthen security, enhance economic opportunity, and drive global progress.
As we look farther into the future, we must recognize that maintaining technological leadership will require vision and far-sighted policies – especially as threats from both near-peer nations and non-state actors increase and expand. In the 21st century, free nations will need to work more closely together to maintain their technological edge.
And we will need to resist the temptation to start new technological ventures all on our own.
The future of air and space is already being fundamentally reshaped by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
And the success of free nations on new frontiers such as hypersonic propulsion, autonomy, and laser weapons systems will be increasingly critical to global security.
Hypersonics – the ability to fly beyond Mach 5 – will forever change our ability to deter and respond to conflict, allowing warfighters to quickly address threats before an adversary may have time to react.
With autonomy, we will field interconnected and intuitive technologies that can save human lives. And with further advances in human-machine collaboration, the future battlespace will be radically altered. Laser weapons systems will also be transformative. We can already see their importance because they are the best match for high-volume, low-cost threats such as drones. Here, too, we’ve made breakthroughs.
At Lockheed Martin, we’ve increased the power of our systems while maintaining beam quality. We are now progressing systems for the U.S. Army, for shipboard use for the U.S. Navy, and for applications on tactical jet fighters for the U.S. Air Force, effectively developing and fielding revolutionary technologies is essential to the future. And many of these advances, like 6th-generation aircraft, will be beyond the capabilities of any single nation to take on by itself. Yet, we know it can be done together.
Ballistic missile defense systems and the Joint Strike Fighter have proven to be models, showing that our cooperative efforts can lead to flexibility, cost savings, as well as mutual security.
There is another reason for nations to come together in the years ahead. It is imperative that free nations take action now to ensure we encourage the next generation of innovators and problem solvers. The world is facing a growing need for scientists and engineers. Government, industry, and society must work together to support outreach, education, and opportunity.
The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are the foundation for future innovation. That’s why, at Lockheed Martin, we are focused on inspiring youth to pursue careers in STEM. We believe it’s essential to reach students in early grades, and along each stage of their education and career.
For this reason, we support programs that engage students of all ages, from primary school through university. Some of these programs include internships and apprenticeships through various training providers and colleges in the U.K. These initiatives cover key skills, including information technology, project management, and mechanical and electrical engineering.
Engaging students at every stage helps inspire and sustain their successful journey into STEM careers.
By keeping this spirit of ingenuity alive in our young people, we can ensure that free nations have the talent pipeline to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Yet, as we look out on an uncertain future, we can do so with optimism.
We know from our shared history what is possible when our nations work in concert to uphold our shared ideals.
We have proven that vision, innovation, and cooperation are equal to any threat or challenge.
And we stand at a moment when nations around the world are recommitting themselves to working together for our shared values.
In the National Defense Strategy, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis reaffirmed the need for the United States to seek a “robust constellation of allies and partners” in order to sustain peace and progress.
We know that the United Kingdom is the brightest star in that constellation of allies and partners.
At Lockheed Martin, we are honored by the trust you have placed in us, and we are gratified by the many opportunities we have had to contribute to “the special relationship.”
I’m confident that, through groups like the Royal Aeronautical Society, we can continue to strengthen the ties that bind our nations and we will succeed in upholding the ideals and values that bring hope to the entire world.
Thank you for the honor to address you tonight and for your kind attention.
CHW (London – 11th May 2018)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785