Aerospace and structures manufacturer GKN (Chalet 355) is setting its sights on expansion in Asia as it seeks out new acquisitions.

With the integration of Fokker Technologies now complete following its purchase from owners Arle Capital in 2015, GKN Aerospace CEO Kevin Cummings is now keen to increase the company’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We truly have a global presence, with 55 manufacturing sites around the world . . . but we are underrepresented in Asia and we have to be there,” Cummings told ShowNews in London.

“If you look and see that 40% of all new aircraft will be purchased there, then there becomes a certain need to manufacture there.”

The company currently has around 10% of its people in Asia, and Cummings said he would like to see more balance in the company’s activities in the region. He cites the growing number of ambitious indigenous aircraft programs in the region, such as China’s C919 narrowbody airliner, which took to the air in early May.

“India will likely have its own aspirations,” he added.

GKN’s pivot to Asia may already be paying dividends. Here at the Paris Air Show the company has announced that its Fokker has signed a contract with the Honda Aircraft Co. to manufacture the electrical wiring and interconnection system for the HondaJet lightweight business jet and has signed a long-term agreement with Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries to produce low-pressure compressor (LPC) canes for the PW1100G-JM and PW1400G-JM geared turbofan engines.

The deal covers work out to 2027.

The push to find new opportunities in Asia comes as the company moves to integrate GKN operations and those of Fokker into one company, a process expected to be complete by the beginning of 2018.

Through the acquisition of Fokker, GKN has become the global No. 2 in aerostructures and the No. 3 in electrical wiring systems; it has also put the company in a strong place to increase its capabilities on thermoplastics and the electrification of aircraft. Additionally, the acquisition increased the company’s workload on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Airbus A350 and Gulfstream business jets.

“[Fokker] is the company we thought it was: it has the technology we anticipated we were going to get, the infrastructure that we thought it had and the customer relationships we believed it had and equal to or better than the talent we expected,” said Cummings.

“Culturally, it fits very well,” he added.

Expansion has also been taking place in the U.S.

The company has recently opened new facilities in Orangeburg, S.C., to support Boeing 787 work in Charleston, and at Sumner, Wash., to assist with the 737 MAX program. Cummings also revealed that the company will open a plant in Bay County, Fla., for work on a U.S. government program.

No more detail has been disclosed; however, as GKN was named last year as a supplier for the B-21 Raider bomber program, it seems likely that the facility will support that program.

As part of its research and development efforts, GKN has begun working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on studies around additive manufacturing, in particular regarding two different additive-manufacturing methods.

The first, laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w), builds structures using a laser layer by layer and offers the potential of producing complex medium- and large-scale aircraft structures from titanium. The second involves using electron beam welding to produce precise small and medium-size components with the aim of producing them at a high volume.

GKN is also continuing to seek additional work with Boeing, but with many of the company’s program supply chains now sourced, Cummings admitted that “everyone is waiting around to see what comes next,” as the aerospace giant ponders its so-called new midsize airplane concept.

But GKN is also reviewing its own businesses. Rapid expansion in recent years has meant it has picked elements of different businesses it increasingly considers noncore.

“Through GKN’s history we have grown very, very quickly through acquisition, but we have never in our aerospace component of our business sold anything,” said Cummings.

“Now we are looking at our size and look where we are going forward,” he added.

GKN has set its sights on becoming the global No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 provider in key market segments, or where it believes it can become a market leader: if it can’t achieve that position or deems a market no longer worth investing in, it plans to exit.

“We will look to exit some noncore business in the next year or two,” said Cummings.