Lockheed Martin [LMT] has Skunk Works, Boeing [BA] its Phantom Works. Over the last five years,
L3Harris [LHX] has been developing its own technology accelerator for classified DoD and intelligence community programs, as well as a small number of unclassified ones.
L3Harris officials disclosed the company’s accelerator–the L3Harris Agile Development Group (ADG)–at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference in National Harbor, Md., on Apr. 5.
Dave Duggan, the president of ADG, said that its mission “is to deliver innovative, vital solutions within a fraction of the time and cost of industry norms” and that ADG is “listening to our customers and taking calculated risks to rapidly deploy new capabilities that will urgently address emerging threats.” Duggan has served in various positions at L3 Technologies and the merged company of L3Harris, including as the president of L3’s unmanned systems business starting in 2011 and L3Harris’ precision engagement systems division starting in 2017.
The 2,500 ADG employees – including about 1,000 of L3Harris’ 20,000 engineers – work in Virginia, Texas, California, and Ohio.
“This ADG concept has [L3Harris CEO] Chris Kubasik’s personal imprint on it,” Sean Stackley, president of L3Harris’ Integrated Mission Systems division, said in an interview with Duggan at the Sea-Air-Space conference on Apr. 5. “This isn’t like just a part of the organization. He stays closely involved to make sure that whatever Dave needs to succeed, the company’s backing it.”
At L-3, Kubasik wanted to integrate company technologies and put them to use–an effort that continued with the merger of L-3 and Harris in June 2019. As an example, in 2020, General Atomics and L3Harris integrated the WESCAM MX™-20 Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) system onto a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone to find and track targets at long ranges for the U.S. Air Force.
Kubasik’s vision started with exploring where L-3 could accelerate innovation in nine company advanced technology areas.
“Nine people showed up at the starting line,” Stackley said. “Dave’s vision was backed up by actual, demonstrated results, which is why Chris has gone all in. This works, not just the technology, but the methodology and the results, and so let’s make this the pathfinder for advanced technologies for the company working with the customer.”
Duggan said that the ADG areas of focus include advanced, broadband sensors, including radio frequency and optical; bringing open architectures into next generation mission systems; and advanced weapons and unmanned systems.
“While most of Dave’s legacy is tied to airborne/Air Force, the technology is applicable across the board,” Stackley said. “That’s opened up doors with other customers. The what next is taking what he was originally working on, and next thing you know it’s being applied to space-based pursuits and maritime. It’s proved to be very solid core technology. It’s the same fight, the same threat.”