Coming off of America’s 240th birthday, it is a good time to reflect on the history of this great nation and how we got to where we are today – through contributions from many dedicated leaders, hardworking Americans and, most importantly, the selfless men and women in uniform who fight to preserve our country’s freedoms. As Hoosiers, let’s take a few moments to recognize all the contributions Indiana makes to protect the homeland.
Here at Rolls-Royce, our Indianapolis operations just recently topped the century mark and we are helping to lead the charge by developing innovative solutions to 21st Century challenges in defense. We are 4,000 strong. These dedicated Hoosiers focus every day on serving our military and aerospace customers.
Our engine products from Indianapolis are in service with all branches of the US Department of Defense – the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army and the Coast Guard in Homeland Security. We produce hundreds of engines a year locally, and service them in the field – coast to coast and around the world.
It is our mission to help make their missions successful, to get these service men and women where they need to go, and make sure they get home again. That is something all of us at Rolls-Royce take very seriously; we take special pride in serving our military customers.
Hoosiers working every day in our facilities also focus on innovation. We produce the only vertical-lift technology for fighter jets in production in the whole world. You will hear more about the world-leading F-35B Lightning II aircraft as it debuts on the international stage at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough air shows in Britain this summer. When you do, remember that it was Hoosier ingenuity and hard work that helped that jet pause in mid-air and hover.
We are constantly looking forward to the next innovative product and how we design and produce it. The engineering team at our LibertyWorks research unit in Indianapolis designed a unique electrical power distribution system for the next generation X-Plane funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Working with Aurora Flight Sciences, which designed the aircraft, our LibertyWorks team topped a field of outstanding innovators to win the competition.
While we are proud of what we do, we know that it takes a team effort to be successful. That’s why we just announced a new $33 million partnership with Purdue University to accelerate jet-engine research and development. That advanced research will be crucial to securing our future in Indianapolis, and was part of our major announcement recently to invest nearly $600 million in our Indianapolis operations. This will enhance our continual effort to remain competitive on a global stage.
And we’re not alone. During the last two years, several industry leading companies have announced plans to make major investments in Indiana, creating new jobs and increasing the state’s aircraft and spacecraft exports.
As an international company, Rolls-Royce has a vast network of experts and resources across the world, but we know that collaboration is key and that’s why we’re investing in Indiana. Here in the Hoosier state, we have access to military and government organizations that promote teamwork, top universities that are guiding vital research while training tomorrow’s leaders, as well as suppliers and partners in the private sector that are all working toward a common goal – ensuring the safety of our residents and our armed forces.
Many efforts are under way around the state, with the assistance of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, to ensure a successful and vibrant aerospace industry for the state of Indiana and its 6 million residents. As we pause this Fourth of July to celebrate, let us remember the role Hoosiers play in protecting our freedoms. Let us honor and thank our armed forces and all Hoosiers across Indiana who serve and protect this great nation. We salute you all.
Phil Burkholder is president of defense aerospace with Rolls-Royce North America.