How Lithuanian business can contribute to the US aerospace and defence industry
Contribution to the world defence industry is a rather new direction for Lithuanian enterprises. As the defence budgets are recovering worldwide and rivalry among industry players is growing, Lithuanian companies have more global opportunities to establish themselves as suppliers not only for Lithuanian Armed Forces, but also for foreign counterparts. One of the most promising target markets is the US aerospace and defence industry. Prospects for cooperation between Lithuanian and American companies were discussed at the US-Lithuanian defence forum in Vilnius held on March 1 and organized by Enterprise Lithuania and American-Lithuanian Business Council.
“There is an enormous and largely untapped potential for Lithuanian companies to contribute to the exceptional defence projects. Enterprise Lithuania is now focused on the better coordination and promotion of defence industrial exports and business participation in defence procurement. We must seek mutually beneficial cooperation with strong and highly developed American defence firms and establish capital links between Lithuanian and American companies in this area. Also, according to wage adjusted labour productivity Lithuanian high technology manufacturers are leaders in the EU,” said Ms Daina Kleponė, the Managing Director of the non-profit governmental agency promoting entrepreneurship and fostering exports Enterprise Lithuania, during the US-Lithuanian defence forum in Vilnius.
According to her, many Lithuanian companies, especially in engineering industry, could boost their exports and profits while cooperating with defence manufacturers. This industry is like any other industry and the military needs are the same as civilians ranging from the most basic to highly advanced. One of the advantages the Baltic country can offer foreign partners is the creation of niche products. “Lithuanian companies are capable of delivering complex solutions and cutting-edge products. Defence related exports include customized solutions of various information systems, laser products, electro-mechanical components and their parts, fabricated metal, rubber and plastics products, logistics services,” Ms Kleponė said.
The American companies interest in Lithuania is spurred by the fact that since 2018 Lithuania spends around 2 percent of GDP on defence. Lithuania is planning to invest in modernizing its current technical equipment. As stated by the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence, during upcoming 5 years Lithuania’s Armed Forces will focus mainly on modernizing air defence equipment and systems, developing ground facilities and infrastructure.
“American defence companies stand ready to support the Lithuanian government in its plans to modernize its Armed Forces. Our companies are eager to work closely with the Lithuanian defence industry to help grow its capabilities and provide innovative solutions and technologies to interested partners,” Mr Eric Stewart, the President of American-Lithuanian Business Council.
Four visiting US defence industry giants presented their ongoing projects and prospects for cooperation at the US-Lithuanian defence forum. Lockheed Martin has been a trusted partner for the Central and Eastern Europe countries national defence for more than 25 years. With the production campus at PZL Mielec Lockheed Martin is the global and regional supplier of Black Hawk helicopters and M28 to customers and alias. As a global leader in aerospace and defence technologies, Orbital ATK designs, builds and delivers space, defence and aviation-related systems to customers around the world both as a prime contractor and as a merchant supplier. Oshkosh Defense delivers leading-edge tactical wheeled vehicles and life cycle sustainment services to military and security forces around the globe. Textron Systems’ businesses develop and integrate products, services and support for aerospace and defence customers, as well as civil and commercial customers including those in law enforcement, security, border patrol and critical infrastructure protection around the globe.
The US-Lithuanian defence forum took place for a second year in a row. The newly established Defence Material Agency along with a public procurement reform was presented. Around 150 participants discussed the situation and potential of the Lithuanian defence sector.
Photos by Alfredas Pliadis (Ministry of National Defence)
According to the overview presented by the analysts of Enterprise Lithuania, the international economic environment has been currently particularly favourable for Lithuanian exporters, thus Lithuanian exports will maintain the growth rates and only internal factors such as a tense situation in the labour market and lack of production capacity will hinder development in foreign markets.
According to the analysts of Enterprise Lithuania, the year 2017 could be characterised by particularly good trends in global economy and main Lithuania’s export markets: last year the economies of the largest European Union (EU) countries grew, Russia’s imports recovered, and the prices of exported goods increased. All the above boosted the sales of Lithuanian companies in export markets.