Lockheed Simplifies In-Air Drone Control

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) has announced another step into the world of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Six months ago, the defense contractor acquired substantially all the assets of Canadian unmanned aerial vehicle software maker CDL Systems, which had created an open, standards-based, commercial off-the-shelf system of software for controlling UAVs and unmanned ground vehicles. Today, Lockheed announced a new move into the UAV space, demonstrating the use of a different software package -- privately held DreamHammer's Ballista drone control software -- to operate multiple UAVs with a single control system.

Integrating with Navy command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C2ISR) systems, Lockheed says it was able to both fly, and control sensor data, from multiple unmanned air systems.

In a statement, Lockheed described how "a combined C2 and ISR capability will be essential as the Navy integrates [unmanned aerial systems], beginning with UCLASS, into its [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] enterprise. We believe in their vision and this demonstration is an example of our work to reduce risk and make the Common Control System a reality."

UCLASS, the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System, is the Navy's project to develop pilotless surveillance and combat drones that can launch from and land on aircraft carriers.

A Lockheed spokeswoman says the Ballista software is not related to the CDL Systems software acquired when it purchased CDL last year.

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