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Exclusive: Firm tapped to develop more affordable, flexible aircraft spy pods


Dayton Business Journal

A national defense firm that just established a local presence won a high-profile contract to create the next generation of spy equipment on aircraft.

Hanover, Md.-based KEYW Corp., which opened an office in Beavercreek in April, was recently awarded a $4.4 million U.S. Air Force deal to develop and build a prototype multi-intelligence “pod.” The idea is to make the pod — attached to aircraft to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information — more affordable and flexible to use.

Also known as ISR, the practice involves the gathering, sorting and analysis of large amounts of information. The industry has become highly technical, through advances in sensors and software, and will provide a big advantage to the countries that become best at the practice.

If KEYW (NASDAQ: KEYW) is successful in delivering the next generation ISR pod, it could lead to a flurry of additional work for the company and its office here. Air Force Research Laboratory, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, issued the 18-month contract to KEYW.

George Dalton, director of Dayton operations for KEYW, couldn’t comment on the work itself but did tell me it could drive the hiring of as many as eight additional workers in Dayton over the next year or so. KEYW has more than a dozen people in the Dayton area working on contracts at the base.

This is the second significant contract KeyW has landed in less than a year at Wright-Patt. Last fall, it was named to a $38 million umbrella contract by AFRL for work on developing new systems to exploit existing sensors of all kinds.

KEYW is the 18th-largest public company in the greater Baltimore area with nearly $300 million in annual revenue, according to American City Business Journal research. The company, which has about 1,300 employees, has eight offices across the country and also serves commercial customers and works in big data solutions.

More detail Officially, the new ISR pod work won by KEYW is known as the Agile Manufacturing for ISR Program.

In technical terms, AFRL Senior Manufacturing Engineer Mark DiPadua said the objective is to research, develop, design and build a prototype multi-intelligence, reconfigurable pod demonstrating benefits of agile manufacturing and a modular open systems approach to make podded intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability more affordable and operationally flexible.