Establishing a key bridge toward its goal of leveraging rapid digital advances in the commercial sector to network the future battlespace, Lockheed Martin [LMT] said Tuesday it has partnered with telecommunications network provider Verizon [VZ] to advance next-generation wireless capabilities to achieve network-of-networks solutions for the U.S. military.

This week the companies jointly demonstrated a fifth-generation wireless network for the battlespace, what Lockheed Martin has been touting as 5G.MIL, that used a Verizon 5G commercial network installed at Lockheed Martin’s 5G test range in Colorado connected to the defense company’s open mission system processor running military applications at its Skunk Works Integration Facility and Test Center in Texas.

The 5G.MIL effort fits within the 21st Century Warfighting concept being espoused by James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president and CEO, who wants to help the military services create a digital network for the all-domain battlespace that is secure, reliable, has no single point of failure, and connects weapon systems, platforms, sensors, and decisionmakers and also brings artificial intelligence (AI) to the edge to further improve situational awareness and reduce time to make decisions.

5G wireless networks, which have been rolling out across the U.S. and elsewhere the past two years, offer dramatic improvements in speed, bandwidth and low-latency.

The companies plan a number of additional demonstrations this year to include network security, new mission applications and other capabilities.

Last month, Taiclet said his company and the larger defense sector need to build bridges to the technology sector to leverage the rapid innovation occurring commercially for military purposes (Defense Daily, Oct. 13). Partnering with academia is another mechanism Lockheed Martin plans to utilize to fulfill the 21st Century Warfighting concept.

5G.MIL is just one of the technologies that are part of Taiclet’s vision, which also includes things like AI and machine learning, autonomy at scale, hypersonics, multi-domain operations, cyber and electronic warfare, and directed energy. He wants to bring network effects into existing platforms at “the speed of Silicon Valley” rather than the years it takes using traditional acquisition methods.

“Lockheed Martin’s deep understanding of DoD mission requirements coupled with Verizon’s wireless expertise will truly enable the Joint All-Domain Operations battlespace our customers envision,” Rod Makoske, chief engineer and senior vice president of Engineering and Technology at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. “Leveraging commercial 5G technologies with military-grade enhancements will let customers field, scale and deploy this technology faster and in more operational environments.”

The two companies have also established a joint research and development lab framework to prototype, demonstrate and test 5G.MIL technologies.

In the demonstration this week, the companies said “Initial tests demonstrated interoperability between Lockheed Martin open tactical gateway solutions and Verizon’s On Site 5G network technology. Specifically, situational awareness applications receiving Link-16 standard messages were linked to 5G user devices. Verizon’s infrastructure and Lockheed Martin’s open mission system tactical gateway technologies will help to address future anticipated requirements for tactical operations.”

To further its 5G goals, Lockheed Martin earlier this year entered an agreement with Omnispace, LLC, to explore developing space-based 5G communications and proposing a satellite network to offer mobile communications worldwide for commercial and government use (Defense Daily, March 23).