Jun 03, 2014
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Military technology and equipment
By Becky Hurley
C4ISR, Information Systems and Global Solutions
Vice President Robert Smith, Ph.D
Employees: 9,000 in Colorado, 2,000 in Colorado Springs
Some makers or manufacturers, quite literally, fly under the radar. Take Lockheed Martin’s Colorado operation, for example.
The company controls 5.3 million square feet of office and production space in Colorado alone. It employs a total of 9,000 people in Colorado. More than one-quarter of those work in Colorado Springs for the Information Systems and Global Solutions group – one of the Lockheed Martin’s five businesses.
Its products and capabilities are often labeled using a scramble of acronyms and numerals. That’s because its mission involves the hardware, software, systems and sensors behind sensitive government and military information. Branding is secondary in this tightly controlled world.
Like many manufacturers who team or partner with their clients, at least 500 of Lockheed Martin’s team are embedded with their military counterparts at Schriever AFB, Peterson AFB and at Cheyenne Mountain AFB.
“In Colorado Springs, we support the Air Force and also have a team that supports the Army. The latter manufactures tactical communications products that are part of a mobile battlefield network,” says C4ISR Vice President Robert Smith. Examples include 10-meter antennas that can be retrofitted on field equipment like Humvees, software packages and high-level sensors for use on ground, air and space.
Those broad descriptors, however, hardly tell the whole story.
Most of the company’s products are designed to provide what Smith calls, “predictive knowledge.”
"We take information which is disparate, not useful on its own. Then we sift through millions of data points to create a whole picture so decisions can be made,” he explains, adding that the company’s Command & Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) technology (used to support the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System) collects and merges data into a common global system. That way, commanders at different locations can simultaneously view and make collaborative decisions regarding potential missile threats.
Other C4ISR systems gather and share intelligence with decision-makers all the way to the Oval Office. Information collected from manned and unmanned sensors is analyzed using complex algorithms and fused into intelligence reports. Whether strategic (e.g., NORAD missile defense activity)) or tactical (e.g., systems to help soldiers in theater), the systems accelerate the exchange of information so military and government users can make informed, strategic decisions.
But keeping abreast of ever- changing technology requires expensive upgrades, even as military budgets see billions in sequestration cutbacks. Smith acknowledges Lockheed Martin’s competencies are already being adapted for use in other fields. Its cyber security systems protect banking and energy industry assets. Another business division of the company leverages expertise in the manufacture of Space Shuttle external tanks to produce liquefied natural gas tanks for storage and transportation.
“I wouldn’t trade our portfolio for any in the country. Supporting the missions of our customers is why we are here. We never forget who we’re working for,” Smith says.
“We’re always looking for ways to grow business. Technology moves so fast. To provide our customers with state of art technologies and to stay on top of it all is a challenge. Today there’s more data coming in daily than during the entire past decade.
We need to continue to develop a workforce that is state of the art, engaged, excited to do important things for the country. There aren’t enough US citizen engineers generated by our universities for our anticipated needs. A larger base of people engaged in STEM activities to hire from and bring in would be optimum.
Our Colorado expansion, which includes transferring employees from a site we’re closing in Goodyear, Ariz. We’re also seeing a growing interest and budget from international customers for our capabilities.” There’s also plenty of opportunity for qualified candidates, Smith says. Top security clearance is a definite plus.