Lockheed Martin [LMT] said Friday its venture unit is making a “strategic investment” in unmanned maritime vehicle developer Ocean Aero as its second significant investor.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
San Diego-based Ocean Aero develops autonomous, persistent, energy scavenging, solar/wind-powered vessels. It is known for developing the Submaran unmanned underwater (UUV) and surface vessel for oceans observation and data collection.
The Submaran is powered by solar and wind energy, can travel for months at a time, and can dive down to 660 feet to avoid surface vessels or conduct C4ISR operations.
Lockheed Martin previously worked with Ocean Aero on an unmanned systems technology demonstration during the 2016 Annual Naval Technology Exercise at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I. The companies said this investment will allow both of them to continue to demonstrate their expertise in configuring teams of autonomous systems for complex missions.
Lockheed Martin’s unmanned underwater vessel current offering includes the Marlin autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which can be used by military and civilian clients for subsea surveys and inspections going down to 1,000 feet below the surface.
“Ocean Aero represents the next generation of environmentally powered, autonomous ocean systems. Our investment will allow us to better respond to customers’ maritime needs with technology solutions for a diverse set of missions,” Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures, said in a statement
Lockheed Martin Ventures is a funding arm of Lockheed Martin that invests in early-stage companies with a focus on longer-term, strategic investments in technology that could drive future growth for the company.
Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures told Defense Daily in a statement that they would not share specifics, but the company is “confident that the investment will produce strategic gains for both Lockheed Martin and Ocean Aero.”
Moran elaborated that the investment intends to complement Lockheed Martin’s Marlin system while providing a multi-domain capability not found in current UUVs.
“When fully equipped, the Submaran will provide that critical link for surface, air, space and undersea communication environments,” he said.
Ocean Aero’s president and CEO Eric Patten was also positive about the development.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to grow our business and leverage the strengths of Lockheed Martin to accelerate innovation in the autonomous domain,” he said in a statement,
Ocean Aero gained its’ first major investor, marine instrumentation company Teledyne Technologies [TDY]. in 2014.
Lockheed Martin noted this is its venture arm’s third investment in 2017 and it expects this one to create opportunities for both companies to grow their maritime capabilities, focusing on C4ISR.