L3Harris’ JV to further strengthen Saudi’s local supply chain, military capabilities

 Charles R. “CR” Davis, Lt Gen USAF (Retd) VP, L3Harris International, & Vice Chair, SAMI-L3Harris JV

US-based L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defence technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defence and commercial technologies across space, air, land, sea and cyber domains.

 For more than 50 years, L3 Harris has provided the most advanced capabilities to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in areas such as ISR Aircraft, communication systems and advanced sensor systems. Saudi Arabian Military (SAMI) and L3 Harris have formed a Joint Venture. 

In an interview with Arabian Defence, Charles R. “CR” Davis, Lt Gen USAF (ret), Vice President, L3Harris International, and Vice Chair of the board of directors of SAMI-L3Harris JV, said that the JV will unlock exciting opportunities for the Transfer of Technology (ToT) and expertise to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and US-based L3Harris Technologies, one among the world’s top aerospace and defence firms, have formed a landmark joint venture (JV). Could you explain the significance of the JV?

The new joint venture with Saudi Arabian Military Industries is established to support localization of L3Harris world leading aerospace and defense capabilities in support of Saudi Arabia’s armed and security forces – the first U.S. defense company to establish such a partnership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The launch of the JV, which encompasses the entire L3Harris Technologies portfolio of capabilities, was initiated through signing a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) by His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Chairman of SAMI, and Christopher E. Kubasik, CEO of L3Harris Technologies, at the Paris Air Show in June 2019. The JV achieved its commercial registration in August 2020 and is SAMI’s first fully operationalized Saudi-U.S. partnership.

Initially, what is the main focus area of the joint venture?

The collaboration creates a path for the localization of L3Harris’ world-leading communication, sensor, and integrated mission systems for the land, air, and maritime domains, in line with SAMI’s mandate to support the goals of Vision 2030.

In subsequent years, which all would be the areas of cooperation between SAMI and L3Harris?

The scope of the joint venture will expand to include prime contractor responsibilities for integrated mission systems and platforms to include ISR, aeronautical, C4ISR and maritime capabilities, leveraging robust local industry partnerships. Together, we aim to collaborate in areas, including transfer of production, transfer of technology, local industry supply chain integration and research and development programs in approved technologies.

Saudi Arabia has set a target of localizing more than 50 % of military equipment spending by 2030. How would the JV enable the Kingdom achieve this target?

This joint venture unlocks exciting opportunities for the Transfer of Technology (ToT) and expertise to Saudi Arabia. Our collaboration will further strengthen the Kingdom’s local supply chaing and military capabilities, enable its self-sufficiency,  and create high-quality career opportunities for skilled Saudi citizens.

Even before the JV, L3Harris has been carrying out business in the Kingdom for several decades. How would the joint venture affect this business?

For more than 50 years, L3Harris has provided the most advanced capabilites to the Kingdom in areas such as ISR Aircraft, communicaiton systems and advanced sensor systems.

Through the SAMI L3Harris joint venture, we will be leveraging L3Harris’ leadership in technology innovation by bringing IP into the JV and leveraging established partnerships to transfer current technologies and manufacturing capacity into the Kingdom.  Localization through the Joint Venture will also be a critical part of any new program.  In collaboration with SAMI and local industry partners the joint venture will continue its focus to enable a fully indigenous defense capability to be realized as part of Vision 2030.

Could you tell us about the major manufacturing facilities under the JV?

Saudi Arabia already has a world class manufacturing capability in the Kingdom.  It is the intent of the JV to enhance this established indigenous capability not by duplicating it, but by bringing even more advanced technologies to the Kingdom which can be produced at these facilities.  In addition, the JV will work with local supply chain partners to help them become qualified within L3Harris vast supplier base.

Apart from supplying products and services to the Kingdom, are there export plans for the JV?

The SAMI L3Harris JV is intended not only to be a partner for localization of systems for the Kingdom, but to develop capabilities which can be further exported from the Kingdom to allies and partner countries.  As the JV helps to develop and localize such “Made in Saudi” capabilities, we believe the export market, with all required approvals, will represent a major growth opportunity for the JV.

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