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Pentagon bets $480m on AI-fueled intel platform

Starting June 1, a Palantir system will bring enhanced intelligence data to the Joint Staff and combatant commands.

The Pentagon wants to expand its experimental intelligence platform across the combatant commands, to the tune of $480 million over the next five years.  

“This is taking what has been built in prototype and experimentation and bringing this to production,” Shannon Clark, Palantir’s head of defense growth, told reporters Thursday. “Users are going to span everyone from intel analysts and operators in some of the remote island chains across the world to leadership at the Pentagon.”

The Maven Smart System prototype has been part of the Pentagon’s global information dominance experiment to provide more seamless communications, also called the combined joint all domain command and control, or CJADC2. 

The initial users include the Joint Staff and five commands: Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, and Transportation Command. The goal is to eventually have all 10 combatant commands use the platform. 

Palantir started employing the Maven systems prototype in 2021 with a “small set of users at each of these combatant commands,” Clark said. “Now this is offering an enterprise capability with essentially no user limit…This means that an intel analyst or user that's doing work in the field has access to this platform, as do the combatant commanders themselves, who want to understand, you know, what's going on there in the world.”

The effort, which runs through the DOD’s chief digital and artificial intelligence office, will roll out June 1, increasing the number of users from hundreds to thousands, Clark said. Moreover, the CDAO awarded Palantir a separate $33 million contract to help integrate third-party vendor and government technologies, according to a news release. 

The prototype will focus on key areas like battlespace awareness, global integration, contested logistics, joint fires, and targeting. For example, Maven is able to aggregate data on U.S. forces’ locations from hundreds of sources into a digital map that leaders can use. 

“Typically, how this is handled is through static update briefs, typically PowerPoint, on a 12- or 24-hour cadence. This actually becomes challenging for a leader to be able to either visualize, describe, [or] provide direction to forces when information is either outdated or they can't actually see it in a synthesized manner,” said Andrew Locke, Palantir’s enterprise defense lead. “We're able to do really interesting things through data integration, and through joining with different datasets,” such as understanding force readiness and what effects could be done with a given asset, or weapons system.

The same goes for using signals intelligence, satellite imagery, and heat imagery to figure out what equipment adversaries have and where their forces are. 

Palantir has become a major player in defense technology in recent years, landing contracts for the Army’s battlefield intelligence platform TITAN and data management efforts. 

The firm-fixed price contract was awarded through Army Contracting Command with expected competition in May 2029. Clark said they’ll use the $480 million for software licenses.