Hawkeye Cluster 3 satellites (Hawkeye image)

WASHINGTON: Analytics is the linchpin of the new agreement between defense giant Leidos and space-based radio frequency geolocation startup Hawkeye 360, according to both companies, with the planned partnership going well beyond Leidos’ financial investment of $5 million.

“Leidos’ investment will contribute to the growth of our constellation and advanced analytics as we continue to rapidly scale our business to meet increasing global client demands for commercial RF products and services,” Alex Fox, Hawkeye 360’s executive vice president for Global Growth, told Breaking Defense.

“Under the agreement, Leidos will have access to the world’s largest commercial RF data archive,” he said. “Both companies will collaboratively develop high-impact analysis by applying traditional and cognitive algorithmic techniques to the HawkEye 360 data repository.”

Likewise, Leidos in a Thursday press release highlighted that the two firms “will share information and combine efforts to achieve transformational growth in data and analytical services.”

Leidos’ investment raises Hawkeye 360’s total amount of Series D funding — typically the last round of private investment before a startup goes public — to $150 million, according to Hawkeye’s Thursday press release.

Headquartered in Reston, Va., Leidos (formerly SAIC) has its fingers in practically every defense-related pie, with reported annual revenues of approximately $12.30 billion for the fiscal year 2020. In the national security space arena specifically, it designs and builds electro-optical and infrared payloads, as well as advance signal and image processing algorithms — so Hawkeye 360’s RF capabilities would add a new arrow in its quiver of offerings.

The HawkEye 360 constellation pinpoints ground targets — including vehicles such as tanks on the move, something of a holy grail for the Army in particular — using RF emissions. The network “detects, characterizes and precisely geolocates these RF signals from a broad range of emitters, including VHF marine radios, UHF push-to-talk radios, maritime and land-based radar systems, L-band satellite devices and emergency beacons,” the company’s release explains.

The Herndon, Va.-based company in 2019 won a first-of-a-kind contract from the National Reconnaissance Office to explore its capabilities, having launched it’s first three Pathfinder satellites in December 2018. Hawkeye 360’s constellation grew to nine satellites in June 2021 with three birds going into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9, and in September the company signed a formal contract the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for its analytical services.

Indeed, Fox said that “more important than its financial backing, Leidos’ strategic partnership enables collaboration on key accounts where their knowledge will enhance what HawkEye 360 can deliver to select customers. The partnership will harness Leidos’ decades of national security experience and technological expertise in RF intelligence with HawkEye 360’s unique data and analytics to better serve both companies’ clients across the humanitarian, environmental, commercial and national security sectors.”

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