In a sign that the Air Force is readying to ramp up work on a next-generation cyberwarfare platform on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command, Lockheed Martin will be stationing some members of it staff associated with the project right next door to the Air Force facility in San Antonio, Texas.
In a ceremony June 22, Lockheed announced it will be the first tenant at Project Tech, which the company described in a news release as a facility within a campus specifically tailored to support the growth of the region’s cybersecurity and technology.
Project Tech is the outgrowth of Port Antonio, a public organization created by the state legislature in 1998 on the old Kelly Air Force Base, right next to Air Forces Cyber, to act as a strategic partner and interface between the Air Force and business.
“We thought where better to put a facility that can host this type of work than within a couple hundred yards of the front gate of” 24th Air Force, Jim Perschbach, the Port’s interim president and CEO, told Fifth Domain in an interview.
“What we’re hoping to do is to create an entire campus of people who want to do the mission support in the contractor community, the academic support, people who are really more focused in on the commercial side but maybe looking to put those technologies into government service or maybe the government is looking for the commercial sector as well,” he added.
Lockheed’s operations will reside in a 15,000-square-foot workspace onsite with a local team comprising of systems engineers, software developers and cyber architects. Their work will primarily focus on development and testing of full-spectrum cyber tools and platforms, the company said, to include Henosis, Lockheed’s prototype for the Unified Platform competition.
Acting as U.S. Cyber Command’s executive agent, the Air Force is in charge of the Unified Platform, described by some as a cyber carrier that will allow cyberwarriors to launch offensive and defensive operations and tools, among other purposes.
With the elevation of Cyber Command as a full unified combatant command and its cyberwarriors reaching a key staffing milestone recently, the command is now transitioning from a building period to one of readiness and operations. As the force continues to mature, it will need a platform to run operations.
The Air Force is beginning to ramp up the competition for Unified Platform.
“We are inspired by our customers’ missions and seek to partner with them to make the world a safer place,” said Deon Viergutz, Lockheed Martin vice president of cyber solutions.
“By increasing our investment in the area of cyberspace mission support, we are better positioned to support the growing needs of organizations on or near the Port, such as the 24th and 25th Air Forces and the National Security Agency.”
Perschbach explained that while business in today’s day in age can be done remotely, there’s no substitute for physical proximity.
“If you’re really trying to work with somebody, you’re trying to meet their needs … that requires communication collaboration,” he said. “If you have people who are working on this solution, particularly something as important as Unified Platform, and they’re a stone’s throw away, then you build up that level of communication.”
Perschbach added: “What we offer is something where you’re within walking distance of the gate where the military customer can come right out talk to you or you can go right to the gate and talk to the military customer.”
Lockheed said it expects to grow more than 100 professionals in the next five years at the Port.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.