Editor-in-Chief Joe Anselmo started the Q&A with a tough one on everyone’s mind – how Finmeccanica North America is affected by the legal troubles facing the parent company in Italy – (Giuseppe Orsi, the former CEO, is charged with bribery and awaiting trial).
Lynn’s response: “One – there are charges. Nothing’s been proven. Orsi, you mentioned, is on trial … so at this point it’s in the status of allegations that have not been proven. That’s one point. The second is for our company, here, there’s no connection to any of that. We don’t have any part in the business no matter where the allegations occurred. DRS is in a proxy. We have a board of cleared Americans that sits between us and the parent company and acts for the parent company. … In terms of our business here, there hasn’t been an impact."
Executive Editor Jim Asker floated several of the questions submitted on our blog including about Finmeccanica North America’s role on the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship:
Lynn replied: “The biggest opportunity for us on the LCS is with Oto Melara. Oto Melara has a 76mm gun. The criticism of LCS is that the firepower is not what you’d hope for. The 76mm gun offers an upgrade to that. Either you could retrofit the current LCS, you could do a new version of the LCS with the gun or you could do a frigate with the bigger gun. We see an opportunity there, with the LCS depending. Because there is clearly a desire for more firepower on the LCS. That’s one of the consistent themes you see. … We think we have an answer for that.
“It’s a relatively powerful answer because the Navy and the Coast Guard have built the 76 mm gun before. … This wouldn’t be a new product for the fleet.”
Photo credit: Michael Fabey
And Asker inquired about whether Finmeccanica and DRS Technologies are moving to operating more autonomously?
Lynn: “We’re pretty autonomous now. We have a proxy now, which is by security definitions, autonomous. DRS will continue to operate through that proxy, and we’re not going to compromise on that autonomy. But what we’re also trying to do is create essentially an umbrella headquarters for Finmeccanica. It’s had a small one before, but we’ve had less of a presence than some of the other European companies here.
“Let’s put it this way, our presence here has been through our operating companies – Alenia, AgustaWestland, less Finmeccanica. Finmeccanica is the eighth largest defense company in the world and has those kinds of resources and R&D and so on. And so you’re selling yourself a bit short if you just sell as a $4 billion helicopter company ... really part of a $24 billion defense company that has those kinds of resources and can provide that kind of support. We’re trying to bring that message across."