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The vertical specialist

Rafael Márquez

Rafael Márquez

AERTEC / Aerospace & Defence Systems Director


Every few months, on a fairly regular basis, some senior representative of an industrial policy appears in the press and praises the benefit of having a national champion in the country spearheading the aerospace and defence industry sector.

We live in a context of industrial partnerships and collaboration.

As can usually be the case on many occasions and in all walks of life – with industry not being any different – these types of opinions prioritise quantity over quality. They focus on just how important it is to have industrial autonomy from external forces without going into greater detail. Everything begins to be strategic; the names of the main sector companies begin to ring out as they all attempt to guide the new champion. However, a few weeks later everything simply returns to normal and stays that way until the next cycle comes around, usually without anything actually happening at all.

Of course, there is no doubt about the importance of self-sufficiency in technological capabilities in certain areas, and it is always beneficial to state that there are no more than a dozen countries in the world capable of designing, manufacturing and maintaining aircraft. But when one belongs to an economy which is increasingly interdependent and globalised, then perhaps it is not really time to focus on one’s own abilities and capabilities to protect them from foreign threat. Instead, we should look outward and see how they could be complemented by the great things abroad. There is no doubt that we live in a context of industrial partnerships and collaboration where high project costs are necessary to develop large programs that lead to the formation of powerful supranational consortia, which in turn are able to provide the finance and ability to take risks which would be unthinkable in solo ventures.

But if we think more in the medium term, that is any temporary extension beyond a single parliamentary one; it would seem smarter to focus on those technologies in which domestic companies from all countries actually do have an international frontrunner. By concentrating available resources on technology, knowledge would increase and make it more likely for companies to gain strong technological backgrounds and become segment leaders. It would certainly prove a better alternative to merely investing in managers of large programs with a great deal of administrative burden and very little innovation.

It is not about emphasising, once again, that the real contributor to the value supply chain is not actually in manufacturing or assembly, but about making where the real interest should lie clear; harnessing the resources already gained from these activities, which already have a set expiration date, more or less, in which to reinvest in efforts aimed at the development of fusion sensor algorithms, real-time decision support systems, the replacement of fossil fuels with electric systems, collaborative robotics. or any other segment that could actually enrich our neuro-industrial networking.



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