American job seekers might want to look to non-U.S. defense firms for opportunities at home. Two European technology companies – Saab and Thales – have recently taken steps aimed at helping them win a greater share of the slowing but still large American defense market.
Saab, based in Sweden, announced Oct. 23 that it has consolidated four U.S. entities into a single defense and homeland security provider. The new company, Saab Defense and Security USA, is based in Sterling, Va., and brings together Saab Training USA, Saab Barracuda, Saab Support and Services and the defense elements of Saab Sensis.
Saab said the streamlined organization will be more efficient and nimble, helping it compete for more work in the United States. Despite budget cuts, the U.S. government is still viewed as ripe with opportunity for contractors.
“Even when viewed against the background of the current budget situation, the U.S. defense and security market represents nearly 50 percent of the total global market,” said Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s Americas market area. “This makes it very important for Saab to solidify its position and grow its presence in the U.S.”
Saab’s existing U.S. activities include surveillance radar work for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and for State Department embassies in the Middle East. It also makes camouflage and heat-reducing systems for the Defense Department and law enforcement. It hopes to expand its U.S. presence by landing new contracts and acquiring complementary entities.
A week before Saab’s announcement, an American unit of France-based Thales revealed that it has renamed itself to better represent its diverse offerings and aid its continued expansion following a series of acquisitions and intra-Thales mergers. Thales Communications, of Clarksburg, Md., is now Thales Defense & Security. The new entity’s military products include helmet-mounted displays and satellite communication terminals.
“Thales has essentially consolidated its U.S. defense and security businesses under one company,” said Alan Pellegrini, president and CEO of Thales USA. “This has created a larger, stronger company with operational and market synergies that will benefit both shareholders and customers.”
Besides Maryland, Thales Defense & Security has facilities in California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.