Interview: Fujitsu Plans to Turn Turkey into Middle East’s Defence and Aerospace Centre
As one of the global players of the defence and aerospace industry owing to its involvement in projects such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Programme, Fujitsu intends to bring its capabilities in this area to Turkey, through technology transfers it will perform via joint ventures and collaborative efforts. We had the opportunity to learn more about the company’s plans and targets for Turkey from Tim Gibson, Vice President of Defence and National Security at Fujitsu. You can read the full content of the interview conducted within the context of DSEI 2017, from MSI TDR’s website.
MSI TDR: Can you tell us about Fujistsu’s perspective towards the defence and aerospace industry, as well as its solutions in this area?
Tim GIBSON: Fujitsu ranks 62nd worldwide in terms of defence and aerospace investments. Our largest presence is in Japan, where we have an annual turnover of $700 million. Ranking next is our operations in the United Kingdom, where we have an annual turnover of $400 million and 600 workers. And ranking third is our operations in the United States, with an annual turnover of $250 million. Fujitsu’s activities in defence and aerospace concentrate primarily in Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia. With $1.6 billion in annual revenues, defence and aerospace is also the industry in which the company is seeing the fastest growth at a global level. In a dedicated fashion, we’re continuing our growth in this area in Europe as well. In this broader context, we’ve decided to become involved in the field of defence and aerospace in Turkey. At Fujitsu, we made our plans, at the beginning of this year, about initiating defence and aerospace activities in 23 countries outside Europe and the United States. We have a different approach specific to each country. We don’t have a single model for defence and aerospace. What sets us apart from other suppliers is that we make local human resources and local suppliers part of our business. In every country where we do business, we bring different models and solutions by taking local needs into account. For example, in Finland, we have a large business volume in the field of informatics. As we were already familiar with the needs and business habits over here, in Turkey, we found it easy to start working in the field of defence and aerospace. In the business model we’ve devised in Turkey for the defence and aerospace industry, we envisage an organisation and strategy that is local. This business model can take the form of a partnership or joint venture. With the defence and aerospace organisation we plan to establish in Turkey, and the solutions we think about developing, we plan to offer services not just to Turkey, but also to the countries of the Middle East.
MSI TDR: Does your plans also include the transfer of technology?
Tim GIBSON: Yes, we will perform the transfer of technology and skills. The business model we’re planning to form in Turkey involves products and solutions developed by Turkish suppliers, in facilities employing Turkish citizens. Taking into account the needs of the market, we’ll mirror into Turkey the experience and technology we’ve gained from across the world. In US defence companies, the board of directors is fully independent, and consists of US citizens intent on protecting the US’ interests. Moreover, the board members generally include US generals and senior managers who retired from larger companies. This organisational structure has the advantage of bringing an approach that adequately responds to the existing security gaps, as well as the US’ military requirements. A similar model may also turn out to be the right approach for Turkey. Most of our solutions are NATO-compatible. The fact that Turkey is a NATO member is an advantage for us. We can readily sell to NATO countries any product and application produced in Turkey or in the United Kingdom.
MSI TDR: Do you not consider the transfer of technology as something negative from the standpoint of your company policies?
Tim GIBSON: Fujitsu invests $2 billion a year for R&D in the field of defence and aerospace technologies. Thanks to the important global investments we’ve made on R&D, we now hold more than 180,000 patents. What good are all these novelties and innovations if we don’t use them for our customers?
MSI TDR: Does Fujitsu plan to reach the countries of the Middle East through Turkey?
Tim GIBSON: Yes, we see Turkey as a centre from which we can reach these countries. In contrast to offering US products and solutions, on which no modifications or localisation are generally made or permitted in the Middle East, our approach is to propose solutions that match local demands, and which are produced using domestic contribution. In our business model, which we’ve formed thanks to the presence we’ve had in Turkey for many years, we attach importance to Turkish system integrators. We’re continuing to work with them to come up with new projects.
MSI TDR: Does Fujitsu have concerns about doing business in the field of defence with non-NATO countries?
Tim GIBSON: Not at all. At Fujitsu, we have a strong trade infrastructure with many non-NATO countries, such as China and Russia.
MSI TDR: What does your partners in the field of defence think about your idea of doing business in Turkey?
Tim GIBSON: We pay attention to keeping our intellectual property rights outside the US. That’s why we have no issues with regards to utilising and applying our technologies in other countries.
MSI TDR: Why is it particularly in this period that you’ve begun to consider expanding into the defence and aerospace industry in Turkey?
Tim GIBSON: The timing of our growth and expansion in this market is largely the product of a natural flow. You don’t always have the ability to utilise, at the same time, every opportunity that appears. We think that we now have the competent team that we needed to operate effectively in the field. In addition, the fact that Turkey has very special projects that are reaching maturity also prompted us to act now. We consider it important that Turkey is taking part in the F-35 project. That’s because we are also one of this project’s business partners. Similarly, Japan is also quite interested in this project.
MSI TDR: As a final question, and based on what you’ve said for the F-35, could we ask your thoughts about Fujitsu’s potential involvement in the TF-X, one of Turkey’s most important projects?
Tim GIBSON: In case we’re given the chance, we would be delighted to take part in this project.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Tim Gibson, Vice President of Defence and National Security at Fujitsu, for taking the time to answer our questions and providing us with valuable information.
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