Lockheed eyes Project Convergence after successful 5G expedition

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WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin plans to demonstrate its new 5G network technologies at Project Convergence ‘22, following a successful showing of gear installed on vehicles traversing Florida scrublands.

The defense-contracting giant has applied to test its 5G solutions as a part of the U.S. Army’s annual experiment, said David Rohall, a senior program manager on the company’s sensors and global sustainment advanced programs team, and hopes to improve its related capabilities in the near future.

Project Convergence ‘22 — the Army’s contribution to Joint All-Domain Command and Control, a plan to modernize military communications — is set for this fall. It will, for the first time, include international partners.

The first Project Convergence began in 2020. Since then, the series of experiments has put emerging technologies, like networks, artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomy, to the test.

Lockheed last year equipped a pair of Hummers with 5G-capable open architecture processors, and drove them across its electronic testing site near Orlando International Airport.

“We took those two commercial Humvees and connected them through a commercial 5G network on site,” Rohall said. “We took those Humvees and we put them in different scenarios to drive throughout.”

The exercise, completed in November 2021, falls under Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL initiative, designed to integrate and upgrade the fifth-generation gear in the military. The company said the Florida expedition will help its engineers explore 5G applications for ground vehicles.

The 5G.MIL program, Rohall said, represents “a large investment in the future for all of our joint warfighters. This technology will advance and bring new capabilities to our airmen, soldiers, Marines and sailors across all the joint domain operations.”

Fifth-generation wireless technology is a marked improvement compared to its predecessors, promising faster speeds and boosted bandwidth. Officials believe it will usher in a new era of connectivity.

“This is an enabling technology to share data securely, resiliently and seamlessly across that battle space,” Rohall said.

Lockheed Martin previously joined forces with Microsoft to work on 5G, and in mid-February announced it won a $19.3 million contract to develop a 5G communications network testbed for the U.S. Marine Corps in California.

The defense contractor has also teamed with Verizon to develop 5G systems for battlefield use.

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers networks and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely nuclear weapons development and Cold War cleanup — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina.

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