Lockheed Martin, the US military’s biggest contractor, announced it will add open RAN software from Radisys to its new 5G-focused portfolio of products for military users.
“With key collaborators such as Radisys, we can accelerate development and deployment of 5G.MIL network capabilities that benefit our defense and national security customers,” said Dan Rice, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s new “5G.MIL” business unit, in a release. “Resilient mesh communications create a network effect that raises the deterrence capability of US and coalition forces, while improving battlefield effectiveness, should deterrence fail.”
Radisys joins Verizon, Keysight Technologies and Omnispace under Lockheed’s military-focused 5G effort, dubbed 5G.MIL. Lockheed said Radisys will supply open RAN software technologies, including wireless relay and Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB). The contractor explained that such wireless backhaul technologies are critically important to “warfighters” in locations where “wired interconnections are not possible or are cost prohibitive.”
Broadly, Lockheed is working to build a portfolio of 5G products and services that can meet the military’s stated goal of connecting “sensors with shooters across all domains, commands and services.” The Pentagon’s ultimate objective is to “increase lethality” by allowing soldiers, pilots, drones, robots and other combatants to wirelessly coordinate with each other during a battle.
At the US Department of Defense (DoD), the effort falls into the JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command and Control) program. Lockheed and other military contractors are working to supply products that will allow US Navy ships to communicate with US Army troops, for example.
And, according to Lockheed, no one company can meet all those demands. “Our team has identified several areas where we are working with commercial collaborators to improve 5G’s security, resilience, interoperability and performance specific to DoD needs and requirements,” the company wrote on its website. “Some of these relationships, such as our work with Verizon for development of 5G.MIL network prototypes, including interoperability with DoD tactical networks, have been announced publicly. Other strategic relationships are also in place and will be announced in the coming weeks.”
So far, Lockheed has partnered with a diverse set of suppliers. Radisys, for its part, supplies open RAN software for wireless network operations. Verizon is a major provider of 5G services, while Keysight offers network testing products. Omnispace is hoping to operate satellites that can support 5G connections.
The mention of open RAN technologies in Lockheed’s new deal with Radisys is noteworthy, considering some see the technology as a bulwark against 5G equipment from Chinese suppliers. Indeed, the DoD earlier this year announced a “5G Challenge” designed to “accelerate the development of an open source 5G ecosystem that can support DoD missions.”