After 28 years at Lockheed Martin, Patrick M. Dewar is taking on his newest challenge: growing the company’s international business as U.S. government spending shrinks.

The contracting giant announced earlier this month that it has formed a new unit, dubbed Lockheed Martin International, to increase sales abroad, which today represent about 17 percent of its sales.

The unit is to be based in both London and Reston, and will have offices in Ottawa; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.; Singapore; and Canberra, Australia.

Dewar previously served as Lockheed’s senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development.

Capital Business recently interviewed Dewar. What follows are edited excerpts from that conversation:

What made you interested in the job?

I’ve been doing international business most of my executive career. I actually grew up and lived in Japan as a teenager. [I’m] no stranger to getting on airplanes and meeting new people in interesting places.

Why did it make sense to have a separate organization?

What you have is five very strong lines of business in the United States under the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Most of them have very strong export delivery mechanisms and products that are well-regarded internationally. In several cases, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, we also have local operations. What we find is that customers internationally want more of that. They want more footprint, they want more engagement with their engineering and technical people, so we reached a decision that we could deliver in a better way if we holistically addressed key countries and key regions.

What are the differences you see among different countries and the way they buy?

In some of our countries where we have significant footprints, like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, we will work very similarly to the way we work in the United States. In places like the Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, we will work through joint ventures. In certain parts of Asia, we will develop subcontractor relationships. We have these long-term, in-depth partner relationships in other parts of the world. We go to market three, four different ways, depending on how the local market desires us to.

It sounds like how you go to market is part of the secret sauce.

In every one of those cases, we have local country nationals who lead our businesses.

How is your long-term experience with Lockheed proving useful?

We have these five lines of business, and they’re responsible to stick to their knitting. The folks that are working in aeronautics — we want them to go and do perfect things with what they have to do. Understanding the breadth of the corporation, understanding the connectivity — that’s where Lockheed Martin International comes in.

How are you getting started?

We just leased some space in the Reston area, where we’ll have Lockheed Martin International Washington headquarters. We’ll have a suite of offices in London that we’ll have in place by the fall.

And you’re hiring?

We’re drawing immediately from the staff within the corporation, but in the long run, we’ll probably be hiring in each of the countries and we’ll be hiring locally. We’ve got 6,500 or so internationally today. Those comprise Americans that are on expatriate assignment, local country nationals and sometimes third-country nationals. Going forward, you will see that number get much larger.