COLOGNE, Germany – Germany’s Hensoldt bought Vienna, Austria-based Sail Labs to jump-start its activities in the field of automated sensor processing, a key capability for projects like the Future Combat Air System, the company announced.

Hensoldt plans to build a new product portfolio around the Sail Labs engine, which analyzes open-source intelligence data using artificial intelligence. Founded in 1999, the company specializes in processing large amounts of publicly available data to create situational awareness for decision-makers in the private sector and in government.

With the Sail Labs algorithm under the hood, Hensoldt hopes to inch closer to what many defense companies working on next-generation weaponry dream of: a self-learning network of sensors assisting human operators in everything from surveillance to targeting, both in real-world operations and in cyberspace.

“National security questions revolve increasingly around the intelligent capture and analysis of data,” Hensoldt CEO Thomas Müller said in a statement. “The acquisition of Sail Labs continues our strategy of investing in key technologies that will cement our position as leading European champion in the field of defense electronics.”

The company did not provide any information on the value of the purchase.

The German company, spun out of Airbus, is part of the second tier of contractors developing technology for the French-German-Spanish FCAS program. Hensoldt leads a German industry consortium specializing on mission systems and sensor-weapon integration for the effort. Diehl Defence, ESG and Rohde and Schwarz are also part of that group.

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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