Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Idex 2017: Northrop Grumman plans to boost Middle East sales

The US defence multinational is looking to grow its non-US sales and is targeting the UAE and Saudi Arabia, among other countries, for expansion.
An unmanned X-47B made by the US defence firm Northrop grumman. The company is aiming to grow its sales in the Middle East. Courtesy Alan Radecki / Northrop Grumman
An unmanned X-47B made by the US defence firm Northrop grumman. The company is aiming to grow its sales in the Middle East. Courtesy Alan Radecki / Northrop Grumman

The US defence company Northrop Grumman plans to boost sales in the Middle East region by 5 to 10 per cent this year as it focuses on the key markets of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, a company official said.

Northrop supplies parts to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets and has already struck “hundreds of millions” of dollars in deals within the region over the past three years, said Walid Abukhaled, the chief executive for the Middle East, in an interview yesterday with The National.

“If you look at the needs of defence equipment, of defence systems across the Middle East region, then it is huge,” said Mr Abukhaled at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) taking place in Abu Dhabi.

“It is one of the most prominent regions globally for such equipment and such systems. Our outlook is extremely ­positive.”

Northrop, which also makes the Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft, has offices in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The company in 2014 implemented a strategy focusing on increasing non-US sales from six countries: Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, UAE and the UK.

“You always want to diversify your portfolio and just depending on one customer isn’t the best idea,” said Mr Abukhaled.

Saudi Arabia was the world’s second-largest arms importer in the 2012-16 period compared with the 2007-11 period, rising by 212 per cent and representing 8.2 per cent of the total, according to a report released yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The UAE was the third-largest arms importer, increasing by 63 per cent between the two periods and making up 4.6 per cent of the total.

The No 1 importer was India, with 13 per cent of total arms sold in the 2012-16 period.

International sales make up 5 to 10 per cent of total sales and the company is hoping to raise that to 20 per cent or more in five years, said Mr Abukhaled.

The company is trying to boost sales of its command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems in the Middle East.

It also wants to sell cybersecurity, radars and unmanned vehicles, specifically robotics, among other products and services.

Northrop reported a 4 per cent increase in full-year sales last year to US$24.5 billion, while net earnings rose by 11 per cent to $2.2bn. The company’s missions systems unit, the biggest source of revenue, had sales of $10.92bn, while its aerospace systems had sales of $10.82bn last year.

The company in 2015 clinched a contract to implement the esti­mated $80bn programme to build the US air force’s new B-21 long-range bomber, known as the Raider.

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dalsaadi@thenational.ae

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Updated: February 20, 2017 04:00 AM

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