Lockheed Martin opened a research and development center last week at the Beersheba Advanced Technologies Park (ATP), the US defense contractor’s first office in Israel. The office is headed by former Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Shelly Gotman, a former air force pilot.
The Israeli office is a division of Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions unit (IS&GS), which specializes in information technology. Speaking to the Times of Israel, Chandra McMahon, senior vice president of commercial markets for Lockheed Martin IS&GS, said that, although the firm was primarily known as a defense contractor, it is also the top provider of IT solutions to the US government. “We have nearly $9 billion in sales annually, supporting our clients in the private sector, government and defense arena,” McMahon said. All that IT work requires top cyber-security technology, “and Israel is a great place for that.”
Lockheed Martin did not choose the Beersheba site by chance, said CEO and president Marillyn Hewson, who came to Israel last week to preside over the office’s opening ceremony. “In the United States, Silicon Valley stands as our country’s center for information technology innovation. With the opening of this office and the strategic investments being made by the IDF, it is clear that Beersheba is on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of Israel.”
That this technology will be a major ingredient of the ATP is evidenced by the fact that one of the park’s biggest neighbors will be the IDF, Hewson noted. “The consolidation of IDF technical units to new bases in the Negev Desert region is an important transformation of Israel’s information technology capability. We understand the challenges of this move.” The IDF plans to move many of its largest bases, including the IDF General Headquarters and Tel Hashomer enlistment office, to the area over the next five years.
The ATP’s first building was completed last summer. The first companies to move in, including Deutsche Telekom, EMC, Elbit and Oracle, have established cyber-security research and development labs, while Jerusalem Venture Partners has set up a cyber-security incubator in the park for new start-ups. The government’s National Cyber Bureau is set to move to the ATP.
Lockheed Martin hopes to benefit from this concentration of talent, Hewson said. “By locating our new office in the capital of the Negev, we are well positioned to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent.”