BAE Systems looks to the cloud with Microsoft agreement

By Ged Henderson

17 Apr 2023

BAE Systems 1

BAE Systems has joined forces with tech giant Microsoft to equip defence programmes with innovative cloud technology.

The strategic agreement they have signed will bring together BAE Systems’ knowledge of building complex digital systems for militaries and governments with Microsoft’s approach to developing applications using its Azure Cloud platform.

BAE Systems says that as well as helping partners collaborate on large multinational defence projects, such as the Future Combat Air System, cloud technology could be used to combine and analyse different sources of data more easily during military operations.

Using the cloud could in future also speed up the deployment of software to operational military platforms such as fighter jets.

The two companies have also explored how to reduce the time it takes for an innovative idea to move into production.

Digital design and manufacturing have been at the heart of BAE Systems, which employs around 10,000 people at its Lancashire planemaking plants in Samlesbury and Warton, for decades.

But given the growth in data volumes and complexity, using cloud technology can help perform data analysis and simulation.

Azure Cloud also provides digital engineering capabilities that can help get the most out of data by digitally connecting the design, manufacture and operation of products throughout their life.

Since starting the collaboration, BAE Systems and Microsoft have worked on three successful initiatives, highlighting the benefits of modern cloud software in the defence sector.

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, chief executive of Microsoft UK added: “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, BAE Systems and Microsoft are already delivering tangible results to our customers. These results mean they can modernise environments, protect information domains and optimise operations.”

BAE Systems and Microsoft have worked on three successful initiatives, highlighting the benefits of modern cloud software in the defence sector.

These projects included enhancing real-time tactical naval intelligence through access to more dynamic data sources; development of secure software to deliver real-time updates to air platforms and the creation of a digital thread to support the maintenance of maritime platforms from concept to disposal.

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