Singapore Airshow

Asia is a land of opportunity for defense contractors, says Lockheed Martin

Key Points
  • Geopolitical threats in Asia could push governments in the region to spend more on defense.
  • That's good news for companies in the defense trade such as Lockheed Martin, according to Rick Edwards, an executive vice-president at the firm.
The F-35 has been well received in Asia by Australia, South Korea and Japan

Heightened geopolitical threats in Asia could push governments in the region to spend more on enhancing their military prowess, which is good news for firms in the defense trade such as Lockheed Martin.

"Certainly, we see the threats that are emerging," Rick Edwards, executive vice-president of Lockheed Martin International, told CNBC Tuesday on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow.

"We're seeing budget planning going up in most countries and I think it's going to be a very strong market driven by world affairs for the next few years," he added.

Defense spending actually slowed down in 2017 for Asia as a whole, according to a report by IHS Jane's. But the research firm said the region is expected to be "the driving force behind long term growth in global defense spending."

Japan, for one, approved the country's largest annual defense budget in December. China and India also increased military spending.

North Korea fired 23 missiles in 16 tests in 2017 — adding to tensions in a region that's already plagued by territorial disputes in the South China Sea and clashes over the China-India border.

Edwards said demand for the company's F-35 fighter jets has been "very strong" in the region, with deliveries of those planes to Australia, South Korea and Japan.

He added he expects the F-35 jets to be well-received by more countries. Some, including Singapore, are studying the possibility of purchasing F-35s.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect Lockheed Martin's comments on demand for its F-35 fighter jets.