No matter what happens to the JLTV, GCV and Humvee Recap programs domestically, the defense industry is well aware of the fact that it’s a wide, wide world out there, with plenty of other countries looking for armored trucks to fill a variety of different needs.
Despite defense budget contractions, the international market remains wide open, hungry for the innovations that the U.S. market pays to develop, prove and put into the field. “The trend in the international market is following the U.S. example,” says BAE Systems’ John Kelly, vice president of business winning for land and armaments. In other words, pretty much everyone wants greater mobility, better protection and lighter armor.
While the international market might take its cues from what happens in the U.S., manufacturers can’t just show up with trucks and expect to win business, according to industry insiders. The key to winning and maintaining foreign business is to go local—working with local manufacturers to create long-term partnerships.
Navistar Defense, for one, is planning for when U.S. and NATO forces pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq by developing the company’s defense and commercial base in both countries. There’s already a good parts base for commercial and military trucks in both countries, the company’s director of business development, Rob Puhalovich says, adding that Navistar wants to start building dealerships to “support the war effort today and then transition to peacetime.” The effort will mirror what that company has done in countries such as Canada, South Africa and Australia, where it already had a solid commercial base from which to build defense offerings. “We’re chasing deals in markets where we have had a commercial presence,” he says.
There’s a consensus among industry leaders that some of the biggest markets for new military vehicles are Saudi Arabia, which is constantly upgrading its fleet; Canada, which is in the middle of the selection process for three different vehicles; and emerging markets such as Brazil, Chile, India and Malaysia. All of these countries have open vehicle programs and have partnered with U.S.-based companies to produce vehicles and parts domestically. Kelly says that as a general rule, market trends favor “wheeled vehicles over tracked vehicles,” and like Puhalovich, he says that after a sale a “key part of the business is support and technical services,” which can continue for decades...
Click on over to read the rest of the story here.