For its first major investment in Israeli technology, Lockheed-Martin is looking for innovative cyber-security ideas and projects – which would seem a bit out of character for a company best known for defense systems, aerospace, and even space systems. “A lot of people do think that, but it happens that we actually do a lot of information technology work, which means we need a lot of cyber-security,” said Chandra McMahon, Senior VP Commercial Markets, Lockheed Martin IS&GS. “We need good cyber technologies to protect our customers, and Israel is a great place for that.”

At a special ceremony Monday, McMahon, along Bob Eastman, Vice President Global Solutions at Lockheed-Martin, Dr. Orna Berry, head of EMC Israel, and Professor Rivka Carmi, President of Ben Gurion University, signed a deal in which the three organizations will work together to ferret out promising Israeli cyber-security start-ups, and help them develop their technology into commercial products. Under the deal, the companies will invest together and fund start-ups, which will work at EMC’s R&D facilities in the Advanced Technologies Park in Beersheva.

LH’s Information Systems & Global Solutions unit (IS&GS), which McMahon helps run, is a large division of Lockheed-Martin that is not typically associated with the company – but as it happens, LH is the number one IT solutions provider to the U.S. federal government. “We have nearly $9 billion in sales annually, supporting our clients in the private sector, government, and defense arena,” said McMahon. “All of them use our systems and need cyber-security solutions, which we help them to find and maintain. And of course, as a leading defense contractor, we ourselves are prime targets for hackers.”

Last year, Lockheed announced it would bid, together with Israel’s Bynet Data Communications, for construction of a new communications center in Beersheva. In a recent interview, Bynet CEO Alon Bar-Tsur said that Bynet had sought to convince Lockheed-Martin to work with them on the project, but the request was at first turned down. “First they said they were too busy, then they changed their minds,” said Bar-Tsur. “We wanted them because we realized there was no Israeli company that would be able to build the project to the required specifications. They are very specific in choosing their Israeli partners,” he added.

Lockheed-Martin already has a very active cyber-security division – it was recently recognized by a top security industry publication for its Insider Threat Detection Program (ITDP), which, said CSO Magazine, was “defining the future of security.” But as hackers get more wily, the company needs more creative solutions, said McMahon, and Israel is the place to find them. The company’s relationship with Israel has been primarily defense-oriented until now, but as the cyber-landscape gets more treacherous, the company needs more and better technologies, said McMahon. “Israel is well-known for its cyber-technology, and it’s got a lot of great start-ups,” she said. “We want to put that know-how to work for us.”