In an unprecedented move, five of the world’s largest aerospace and defence companies are offering to stand together to work towards finding solutions to some of the most pressing global energy and environmental challenges. Finmeccanica, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Saab – companies traditionally used to competing with each other for major contracts in the aerospace, defence and security sector – have today jointly backed a statement declaring their readiness to work across sectors to meet common goals.

The complex global challenges being tackled span sustainable infrastructures, clean energy, environment, climate, transport, logistics, humanitarian and disaster relief, and a host of other architectural and structural issues. The goal of this collaboration is to take on those challenges that have historically been too large and intertwined at an international level for any one government, sector, business or agency to address individually. Companies from within the Aerospace and Defence Sector have developed technologies and systems over decades that are highly suited to the application of cross-sector approaches to these challenges. The statement being issued today makes clear that the industry wants to work together to make this expertise widely available.

Jointly agreed by all five companies, the statement – which will be discussed during the forthcoming E3DS conference in London this November – reads: “With decades of relevant expertise, the Aerospace, Defence, and Security sector is ideally suited to address wide-ranging global challenges, whether they be security-related, environmental, technological, or economic. Our experience in providing innovative mission solutions uniquely positions us to support government and other industry sectors as they endeavour to tackle these complex challenges. We are ready, individually and collaboratively, to offer ourselves in this role.”

The inspiration behind the statement has come from a recognition, expressed by scientists, politicians, and industry experts alike, that only a concerted effort along the lines of the Apollo Moon Programme of the 1960s and 1970s can come close to mitigating some of the pressing challenges associated with climate change and the need to build sustainable infrastructures. As the industry that came together to put a man on the Moon, the aerospace and defence industry may well hold the key to solving some of the highly complex issues that stem from shifting global temperatures and collapsing ecosystems, many experts now recognise. The five companies that penned the statement have significant resources and employ more than 340,000 people that can work to solve these important challenges.

As Nick Cook, CEO of Dynamixx – joint organisers of the E3DS conference with IHS, the leading global source of information and analytics – explains: “Aerospace companies – via their traditional role as providers of defence and security solutions – have developed a profound, but largely untapped, understanding of climate and weather through the spacecraft, aircraft, ships, submarines, vehicles, and sensors they have built for their government customers. Much of the science and technology underwriting these systems is a resource that can help provide solutions for climate, weather, energy, environment, natural disaster, resource scarcity, and other complex challenges. Indeed, these companies have already built many of the sensors, satellites, and technologies that have brought us the knowledge and the weather forecasts we experience daily today.”

“Our intention is to use our conference as a platform to invite governments, other industries and academia to tap into this rich resource to develop ‘cross-sector’ solutions to complex global challenges.”