Microsoft gives Lockheed Martin access to classified cloud to work more closely with Pentagon

Models of NASA's Lunar Habitat (L) and Orion capsule (R) designed by Lockheed Martin on display during the 35th Space Symposium at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jason Connolly / AFP)

Microsoft has struck an agreement to provide Lockheed Martin with classified cloud capabilities that will make it easier for the United States’ largest defense contractor to work with the Pentagon in the cloud.

Under the initial three-year agreement, Lockheed Martin will be the first nongovernment entity to operate independently in Microsoft’s Azure Government Secret cloud through its National Industrial Security Program after a one-year pilot.

By using Azure Government Secret, Lockheed gains access to one of the few clouds accredited to work with the DOD’s secret-level information at Impact Level 6. Amazon Web Services and Palantir are the only other cloud providers to reach that milestone.

Under the wider partnership, Microsoft and Lockheed will also work together on advancing artificial intelligence and machine learning modeling capabilities, supporting 5G capabilities at the edge and accelerating Lockheed’s ongoing digital transformation activities.

“Our national security leaders need an unassailable information advantage, which is why we’re bringing the power of the hyperscale cloud to accelerate their national security missions,” Jason Zander, executive vice president of strategic missions and technologies for Microsoft, said in a statement. “In partnership with Lockheed Martin, we’re demonstrating how the defense industrial base can bring classified data into the cloud securely while bringing advanced 5G connectivity, critical data processing and analysis, and immersive experiences to the edge to support decision-making where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Lockheed Martin is a valued partner in this effort, and we’ll continue to innovate and explore the art of the possible to support national security.”

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to share the value of the deal but said the partnership will likely continue to expand after its initial three-year period. The companies are currently developing classified and unclassified cloud environments within Azure Government Secret and expect the environments to be operational in 2023.