Lockheed Shows Off its New Speed

Lockheed Martin ($LMT) is trying to buck the sluggish reputation often attributed to defense primes. 

Ignite, the company’s faster-moving innovation arm, is about to launch the Pony Express 2 mission to test a suite of advanced communications and networking technologies. The two satellites comprising the mission are expected to launch aboard Transporter-10, currently scheduled for March 4.

Ignite 101: Ignite is meant to operate more like a startup within the sprawling organization that is Lockheed Martin. Rather than relying on government contracts or predetermined mission objectives, the projects envisioned within Ignite are entirely funded by the organization. 

The idea is to mature nascent technologies so they’re an easier sell for interested customers down the line. Or, as Lockheed Martin Space EVP Robert Lightfoot put it to Executive Biz in an interview last year, Ignite aims “to get these innovations over the ‘valley of death,’ so that we can then show the customer we’ve got maturity in the systems we come offer to them, so that they don’t have to take the risk.”

Back to the Pentagon: Though structured differently, the innovation arm isn’t entirely siloed from the rest of the company. Pony Express 2, for example, is designed to feed information into the DoD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative, which pulls in data from as many sources as possible to make sure that national security-related decisions are made in the most efficient, informed way possible.

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