Fast Five With General Atomics Global Corp. CEO Vivek Lall

Modi
Dr. Vivek Lall meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Credit: Prime Minister of India

Dr. Vivek Lall, an industry veteran who worked at Boeing and Lockheed Martin prior to becoming chief executive of General Atomics Global Corp. and serves on the boards of the U.S.-India Business Council and the U.S.-Japan Business Council, answers questions about GA’s planned sales and acquisitions.

What is the status of the sale of MQ-9B SkyGuardians to the UAE?

We know U.S. and UAE government officials are in close communication on the matter and have been told the conversations are constructive and that the two governments are moving toward a shared understanding on issues that have slowed the process.

The Indian Navy has leased two SeaGuardians. Does the Indian government plan to purchase more?

The U.S. Government and the Government of India remain engaged in a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) conversation of 30 MQ-9B SeaGuardian/SkyGuardian aircraft for India’s Air Force, Navy, and Army. General Atomics maintains a regular dialogue with both governments on the topic. We are excited about taking the next steps with our Indian partners and believe our MQ-9B aircraft provides a ready and capable solution to their most critical challenges in the region.

How is GA expanding in Australia?

In late 2019, the Australian Government announced that GA-ASI was selected to provide the MQ-9B SkyGuardian for the Australian Defense Force (ADF) under Project Air 7003. In support of the program, GA-ASI has put together a team of Australian companies to contribute to the development of MQ-9B. The team—Team SkyGuardian Australia—currently consists of 10 world-class Australian companies providing a range of innovative sensor, communication, manufacturing and life-cycle support capabilities, including Cobham [the lead industry partner], CAE Australia, Raytheon Australia, Flight Data Systems, TAE Aerospace, Quickstep, AirSpeed, Collins Aerospace, Ultra, and SentientVision. To support the project, GA-ASI and Cobham will establish a joint office in Adelaide to oversee the introduction and through-life support for the platform. GA-ASI currently operates an office in Canberra.

You’ve helped push to loosen Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) restrictions on the export of UAVs. What is the next change that needs to happen?

It was a good first step. However, the fact that UAS remain in the MTCR still places unnecessary restrictions or hurdles that do not exist for aircraft that are far more lethal and technologically advanced. Continuing to view UAS through the lens of the MTCR is indicative of the realities of the year it was written—1987—and no longer relevant to the significant advances and ubiquitous nature of UAS today.

What is the significance of GA’s purchase of Dornier?

In February, General Atomics Europe GmbH completed the acquisition of RUAG Aerospace Services GmbH in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. The purchase enabled GA-Europe to expand its product and service portfolio in the maintenance and repair of business aircraft and military helicopters, as well as in the production and maintenance of the Dornier 228, a twin-engine, multirole light transport aircraft. General Atomics AeroTec Systems GmbH (GA-ATS), a subsidiary of GA-Europe, is now the manufacturer and Type Certificate holder of the Do-228. The acquisition also means that GA-Europe is consolidating its market position in both the civil and military and manned and unmanned aviation business for the long term.

Jen DiMascio

Based in Washington, Jen manages Aviation Week’s worldwide defense, space and security coverage.