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Open playing field in defense is urged.

US and European defense companies should have equal opportunities to meet the military requirements of all NATO member governments, Vance Coffman, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp said at a recent industry symposium.

"I envision a future transatlantic marketplace that is integrated, open, and competitive, and supported by a transatlantic defense industrial base that is innovative and robust," Mr Coffman said.

"This would be a marketplace where governments would work together to define military requirements and seek best value in defense procurement, a marketplace where firms from Europe and America would cooperate and compete on an equal footing, and a marketplace where the military strength of the NATO alliance is preserved and enhanced," Mr Coffman said.

Emphasis in the near term should be on practical partnerships, on specific projects or lines of business rather than transatlantic mergers, Mr Coffman said.

An integrated marketplace would enable allied governments to get more for their money in defense systems, allocate research and development more effectively, and make the defense industry more efficient, Mr Coffman said during his keynote address, "The Defense Industry Today: Implications for Transatlantic Cooperation," at a forum in Washington, DC, co-sponsored by the Atlantic Council of the US and the London-based Centre for European Reform.

Equal access also would enable NATO to mobilize industry to correct the "requirements-capabilities gap" that threatens the ability of NATO military forces to operate jointly with modern systems. As a first step, Mr Coffman urged immediate efforts to implement NATO's recently announced Defense Capabilities Initiative.

"This requirements-capabilities gap could, if allowed to persist, ultimately defeat NATO's objectives of having forces able to operate together across the entire spectrum of combat capabilities and to prevail decisively with minimum casualties," Mr Coffman said.

The gap was particularly evident during Operation Allied Force over Kosovo, in which the technological capabilities of US and European defense systems differed significantly, impairing joint operations, Coffman said.

Transatlantic industry partnerships represent the best option for making military capabilities available broadly and consistently throughout NATO forces, Mr Coffman said as he called on the allied governments to establish clear policies on transatlantic technology issues.

"It is absolutely imperative that NATO governments work out the rules of the road on military technology sharing," Mr Coffman said. "For our part as industry, we are more than prepared to work with governments to formulate and carry out these cooperative agreements."

Mr Coffman urged the NATO allies to examine carefully their positions on offsets, industrial participation, technology controls, cooperative research and development and exports to third markets. The assessment should lead to a set of fair, equal, and consistently applied guidelines that US and European industry could follow, and which would give companies on both sides of the Atlantic equal access to the defense system markets of all NATO governments, Mr Coffman said.

Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The corporation's core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics, and technology services.
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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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