Sat. Sep 30th, 2023
Overseas Space and Defense Companies Expanding Operations in the United States

Many foreign companies are establishing a presence in the United States to tap into the lucrative space and defense market. European firms like BAE Systems and Airbus have already made significant contributions to the U.S. industrial base. Now, a new wave of overseas space and intelligence companies are entering the market to meet the demand for advanced commercial technologies from the U.S. government.

Exotrail, a France-based manufacturer of satellite propulsion systems and orbital transfer vehicles, has set up a subsidiary in the United States to compete for government contracts. The company has been exporting its products to U.S. customers for years but decided to establish domestic production capabilities to win government contracts. Other European companies have also made a successful transition to the U.S. market, setting a positive example for Exotrail.

The U.S. defense and national security agencies are open to innovation from partner nations and are actively seeking partnerships to meet their demands. The U.S. Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Chance Saltzman, promotes the concept of “partnering to win” and recognizes the capabilities of other countries in providing space-related technologies. This welcoming attitude is also reflected in initiatives like the Space Force’s Hyperspace Challenge, which encourages non-U.S. organizations to apply and aims to overcome challenges in working with foreign companies.

The opportunities for foreign-owned companies have improved in recent years. The National Reconnaissance Office, a U.S. intelligence agency, has signed agreements with commercial remote sensing companies, including foreign firms with American subsidiaries. To work on classified projects, foreign-owned companies have to meet the requirements set by the Defense Department’s National Industrial Security Program and undergo regulatory reviews.

While there are challenges in entering the U.S. government market, industry experts advise foreign companies to assess their capabilities and understand the demand, operational needs, budgets, and congressional support of U.S. agencies. Some companies may choose to focus on selling to U.S. commercial customers instead of seeking FOCI mitigation.

Space Forge, a U.K.-based space firm, is planning to establish U.S. operations to contribute to the U.S. space industry. Other companies, like BAE Systems and Iceye, have already gone through the process of FOCI mitigation and created separate U.S. entities. The U.S. government aims to work with friendly nations and historic allies to enhance its capabilities.

Overall, the increase in foreign-owned companies in the U.S. space and defense market demonstrates a shift in culture and a more welcoming attitude toward international collaboration and innovation.