Correction: A Lockheed Martin UK spokesman told Defense News that Patrick Wood’s resignation would not affect the company’s plans to build a major space business in the U.K.
LONDON — One of Britain’s top space industry executives has quit Lockheed Martin UK and is departing the sector to take up a new post with a company best known for modification and support of military airlifters.
Patrick Wood, the director of international advanced programs and the executive responsible for Lockheed Martin Space’s U.K. business, resigned from his post late last month.
The executive’s departure has prompted a restructuring of Lockheed Martin’s international space business sector, said a company spokesman in the U.K.
Wood departs Lockheed Martin little more than 15 months after joining the company. His appointment was part of a drive aimed at fulfilling plans the U.S. defense giant has for carving out a significant role in Britain’s fast growing space sector.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Wood is exiting the space industry for a top job at the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, a Cambridge, England-based operation which focuses primarily on supporting Lockheed Martin C-130 airlifters for the Royal Air Force and other customers.
Wood’s entry on LinkedIn says he has left Lockheed Martin and is now chief technical officer and program management director based in Cambridge. No company name is mentioned.
A spokeswoman for Marshall confirmed Wood would join the company on Jan. 7 but declined to offer any further information ahead of an official announcement of his arrival expected in the next day or two. The company is not active in the space business, according to the spokeswoman.
Marshall also has land and maritime activities and is part of a privately owned company turning over nearly $3.3 billion in sales in 2017 – some of it from an automobile retail business.
The company could be a major beneficiary of the Royal Air Force’s intention to buy Boeing Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft.
Marshall has previously been touted as being earmarked to modify and fit out the aircraft at its Cambridge facility.
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin UK confirmed Wood’s departure but declined to give any further details.
The spokesman did say, though, that Wood’s resignation would prompt a restructuring in some parts of its space business but would not affect the company’s plans to build a major space business in the U.K.
“Following Patrick’s departure, we have moved swiftly to restructure our international space business area and will announce key appointments in due course. The relationships and insights that Patrick brought to, and leaves with Lockheed Martin, will enable us to continue to grow and achieve our long-term plan,” the company said in a statement.
Wood has worked in senior positions for Airbus for many years, mainly in space but also in sectors like engineering and electronics.
Wood joined Lockheed Martin Space from Airbus-owned, British-based Surrey Satellite Technology, where he was chief executive of the world’s leading small satellite builder.
Poaching Wood from Airbus was considered a coup for Lockheed Martin. It was seen by industry executives here as a statement of intent by the US company of its ambitions to build a British space engineering and industrial footprint.
Lockheed Martin is already leading an industry team using U.K. Space Agency money to look at several strategic programs, including the possible setting up of Britain’s first space launch port at a site in Scotland.
Wood’s exit from Lockheed Martin comes at a key time for the space defense industry here.
A long awaited Ministry of Defence space strategy, which has been stuck on a shelf for at least six months, and several major system procurements are approaching a decision on how to proceed.
The government will have to start taking decisions soon on the procurement of its next-generation Skynet 6 satellite communications network.
It will also need to decide how to proceed with the development of a replacement for the European Union’s Galileo global navigation system after Brexit following Brussels’ decision to exclude the U.K. from access to military and security data generated by the satellite network.