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Lockheed, Verizon Test 5G-Powered Drones for Intel Collection

Lockheed Martin and Verizon have completed the second flight demonstration of their joint 5G-powered drone project, which enhances the US military’s capacity “to deliver decisive action on the battlefield.”

The demonstration showcased four 5G-enabled rotary wing drones’ ultra-secure and reliable connections for transferring high-speed, real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data.

The data enables the US Army to detect and geolocate military targets, Lockheed said.

“To stay ahead of our adversaries, military decision-makers need the timely and accurate information that 5G.MIL delivered in this demonstration,” company Vice President Dan Rice said.

“By blending advanced commercial 5G capabilities with military capabilities using secure, open standards, we are helping to make the DoD’s vision for integrated deterrence a reality,” he added. 

Lockheed and Verizon's 5G-Powered Drones
Lockheed and Verizon’s 5G-Powered Drones. Image: Lockheed Martin

Enhanced Drone Features

The drones can operate between a 5G private network and a surrogate public network, boosting the US Department of Defense (DoD) command and control capabilities across military environments.

During the demonstration, the companies also tested the aircraft’s signal detection features, fielding a target that transmits a low power radio frequency (RF) signal.

“The signal was detected because real-time drone sensing data was transmitted over a private Verizon high-speed, low-latency 5G Ultra Wideband network and then processed by advanced signal processing algorithms running on edge compute resources, enabling geolocation of the signal source,” Lockheed said in a statement.

Ongoing 5G Collaboration

The two companies inked a strategic relationship agreement in November 2021 to develop cutting-edge technologies for the DoD.

The companies conducted demonstrations for the 5G aircraft in May and September 2022. 

According to Lockheed, future demonstrations will expand intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance test scenarios to include precision geolocation of moving RF emitters and extend public-private network collaboration using 5G.MIL hybrid networks with military data links.

“Verizon is the network America relies on, and our Private 5G Ultra Wideband networks provide the security, reliability, capacity and low latency that the defense sector depends on,” Verizon’s Srini Kalapala said.

“By demonstrating the mission critical connectivity that our network provides, we are demonstrating how 5G and edge computing can help the DOD address their strategic priorities and continue to develop advanced solutions.”

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