Integrating the right people, technologies and legislation is critical for the future of the defence and aerospace sectors
Industry leaders from aerospace and defence discussed the challenges and opportunities brought by rapid advances in technology during a webinar – hosted by organisers of the Global Aerospace Summit 2020 in collaboration with the Defense Services Marketing Council. The sector specialists analysed how people, processes and systems intertwine across the aerospace and defence industries both in the Middle East region and globally.
Matthew Cochran, Chairman and CEO, Defense Services Marketing Council moderated the session. He put forward to the panel a range of questions, which focused on the importance of localisation, development of intellectual property (IP) and how future talent can utilise modern solutions to build careers within the defence sector.
Matar Ali Al Romaithi, Chief Economic Development Officer, Tawazun opened the webinar by outlining how the UAE continues to look at investment in technology very closely. He highlighted three key pillars within the UAE’s strategy; the investment of people and resources, the need for organisational structures and processes (including legislation) to be in place, and finally ensuring that the appropriate technologies and systems are procured and implemented.
He commented: “The UAE is advanced in terms of educating its people and having the right systems, legislations and technologies in place to be competitive. For example, Artificial Intelligence has become a key part of future thinking, and that is why we have a Minister dedicated to that sector. Also, the UAE made early advances into manufacturing, and this was critical in ensuring that we developed the defence industry into what it is today.”
Al Romaithi spoke about the fact that years ago there was a link missing between the industry, academia and government directions. Through specific and strategic changes in policy he believes that this gap was successfully addressed and this enabled international and local organisations to equip nationals with the right expertise and move the UAE industry forward. A good example of this is the Sustained Enhanced Emiratization in Defence and Security programme (SEEDS) by Tawazun. This program is a demonstration of Tawazun’s commitment to developing people skills, knowledge and capabilities that will achieve the ambitious objectives and needs of the UAE.
Robert S. Harward, Lockheed Martin’s chief executive for the Middle East began by explaining how the UAE has set the pace in terms of technology adoption in the region through proactive and focused development in the area. He emphasised how technology is enabling defence entities to optimize every level of their operations at a rapid rate, to help enhance the industrial base and create high economic value and strategic benefits for the UAE.
Harward underlined the importance of developing IP for localisation and discussed how his company is investing to support human capital development in the region to help the local workforce gain new skills and capabilities. He added that successful technology integration is essential – from the development stage to procurement to implementation – and that this has significantly helped the progress of the defence sector in the region and across the globe.
Harward commented: “Technologies such as AI and UAVs have become increasingly important for the future of defence. Building the IP within the UAE will be achieved by motivating, challenging and supporting young talent so that they can have long careers that support the goals of the country.”
He described the challenge of capacity in ensuring that bright and talented graduates are attracted to the right careers within the defence and aerospace industries. Harward explained that there is a limited talent pool in some cases, and that graduating engineers and scientists need the right opportunities to pursue fruitful careers within the defence and aerospace sectors.
Jay Little, Vice President, Collins Aerospace described how his business is 75% commercial which enables them to invest in areas such as MRO on the defence side. He added that they are investing in communication across different platforms and the security that goes with it. Being able to export these solutions will be critical he explained.
Alan Davis, Chief Executive, Raytheon Emirates spoke about how the challenges and obstacles brought by COVID-19 are driving creativity and innovation. He mentioned the UAE Hope Probe Mars mission is a remarkable example of continued success even during the pandemic. Development and advancement of technology for security and space will be essential for the future of the sector he said.
The webinar was held as part of a series of virtual events focused on a range of topics, which will form part of the virtual programme for the Global Aerospace Summit 2020 on 28th & 29th September. The international thought leadership forum will be hosted by Mubadala Investment Company and EDGE and is being organised by Streamline Marketing Group and Tarsus F&E. More details on the Summit will follow over the coming weeks.