BAE Systems has signed a strategic agreement with Microsoft and is drawing on the software giant’s public cloud platform Azure to provide new capabilities to various different entities within the defence sector.
The defence contractor said the contract with Microsoft is ultimately designed to speed up the time it takes to develop, deploy and manage digital defence capabilities with the Azure cloud enabling BAE Systems to make better use of the data it accrues during military operations to build new products for customers.
This work will see the organisation use Azure to perform data analysis and simulation work, as well as enhance the digital engineering capabilities of BAE Systems by using data to digitally connect the design, manufacture and operation of products throughout their life.
The collaboration has already seen the pair work on projects designed to improve the Royal Navy’s access to dynamic data sources to deliver real-time tactical naval intelligence, and on the development of secure software that can deliver updates to air platforms mid-flight.
“Air, land and maritime platforms face constantly changing threats, so their digital systems need to be regularly updated to recognise and counter them,” said the two companies in a joint statement.
“Modern fighter jets, for example, can require up to 24 million lines of code to function effectively, so using the cloud to deploy updates could make the process quicker and help retain a competitive advantage over adversaries.”
The collaboration is also underpinned by a commitment from both parties to develop technologies together using open architecture tools so customers of BAE Systems can easily integrate the resulting offerings with other third-party technologies.
“This could help BAE Systems collaborate with small businesses and partners without compromising security, by only allowing access to very specific areas of work. Using this approach makes it easier for smaller companies to meet rigorous defence security standards,” the joint statement continued.
Julian Cracknell, chief technology and information officer at BAE Systems, said: “The data available to the defence sector and armed forces is often highly complex and comes from hundreds of thousands of sources, whether that’s satellite and radar feeds, intelligence gathered by ships at sea or even social media.
“Our innovative agreement with Microsoft will give us easier access to tools that help us make sense of this information for our customers – allowing armed forces to stay ahead of rapidly evolving threats, whilst maintaining the highest levels of security.”
Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, said the collaboration between the two parties is already “delivering tangible results” for BAE Systems’ customers.
“This strategic agreement will enable defence organisations to use data more effectively. This will help them promote stability and security for residents, nations and multinational alliances…by working together, delivering agile, secure and reliable software.”