Echodyne, a developer and manufacturer of small, low-cost, low-power commercial radars, on Thursday said it has received a minority investment from Northrop Grumman [NOC] and is partnering with the defense contractor to integrate its radars into some of the company’s solutions, beginning with counter-drone applications.
The size of the investment wasn’t disclosed. Defense contractors, either through their own venture units or directly, have been making small investments the past few years in various technology companies to help keep close tabs on new developments.
This week, Epirus, a small start-up developing directed energy and power management products, announced a $200 million funding round that included the Land Systems business of General Dynamics [GD].
Echodyne’s electronically scanned array radars are already used for counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS), border security, base security, portable surveillance, and other applications. The company offers EchoGuard, a 3-D short-range radar, and EchoShield, a 4-D mid-range radar.
Northrop Grumman has already integrated Echodyne’s radar onto the Bushmaster Gun Truck, a lightweight strike vehicle that has demonstrated success against small drones in live-fire demonstrations. The low-cost radar is billed as an economical answer to the threat posed by inexpensive, commercial drones that can easily be modified to deliver deadly effects.
The two companies will work together to identity additional applications of Echodyne’s radars.
“We continue to embrace disruptive technologies that enhance our solutions and are easily integrated into our open architecture approaches,” David Jacobs, vice president of strategy at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. “This strategic partnership enhances our ability to meet the mission needs of our customers with speed and agility, specifically in the areas of C-UAS.”
Jacobs also said that the success of the Bushmaster Gun Truck using Echodyne’s radar in the C-UAS demonstrations “offers Northrop Grumman’s domestic and international partners a reliable and economical answer to this increasing defense threat.”
Eben Frankenberg, Echodyne’s CEO, told Defense Daily in an email reply to questions that in the Bushmaster gun his company’s radar “provides unparalleled accuracy for fire-control solutions leading to minimal ammunition use for removing intruding drones from the airspace. This is an important milestone in achieving economic symmetry between inexpensive and effective drone threats and the systems and weapons to remove these threats.”
Frankenberg also said in a statement that the investment from, and partnership with, Northrop Grumman shows that the company’s “radars excel in the most challenging applications and demanding environments” and “further validates the advantages of our proprietary technology and our best-in-class radars.”
Last fall, Customs and Border Protection awarded Echodyne a potential $20 million contract to supply the agency with its radars for use in various security applications.
Echodyne is based in Washington and has about 120 employees. Northrop Grumman is the only industry investor in Echodyne. Other investors include former Microsoft [MSFT] Chief Bill Gates and several venture capital firms.