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December 18, 2020 | International, Aerospace

Counter-drone startup Epirus raises $70M, plans to hire 100 people

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WASHINGTON ― Epirus, a venture-backed startup offering a counter-drone capability, announced Thursday it raised $70 million to speed its technology to market.

The round was led by San Francisco, California-based Bedrock Capital, and brings the 2-year-old company's total capital raised to roughly $80 million.

The news comes six months after Epirus inked a strategic supplier agreement with Northrop Grumman to provide exclusive access to Epirus' software-defined electromagnetic pulse system Leonidas. Since then, the firm has doubled in size and plans to add 100 jobs in 2021.

“We're aggressively hiring and expanding our footprint on the East and West coasts,” Epirus CEO Leigh Madden told Defense News. He added that the firm is shifting its headquarters from the Hawthorne, California, office to its newer offices in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Alongside Bedrock and several other investment firms, L3Harris Technologies is investing in Epirus. Epirus developed a SmartPower power-management technology that underpins its counter-unmanned aircraft system, and the company plans to partner with L3Harris to create greater power efficiencies within some of its existing systems.

The technology, which allows the system to deliver a high-power output with a relatively low-power input, has a range of applications across other radio frequency systems, Madden said. (The company's systems involve a combination of high-power microwave technology and, for enhanced targeting, artificial intelligence.)

The new funding, “enables us to rapidly build out our counter-UAS system,” Madden said. “We'll be bringing the Leonidas system to market as well as advancing the capabilities of our SmartPower technology ― and working with government customers and partners to expand the application of that technology.”

Beyond Bedrock and L3Harris, the new Series B funding came from Piedmont Capital Investments, 8VC, Fathom VC and Greenspring Associates. In 2019, Epirus closed $17 million in Series A funding, which was led by 8VC. (Series A is meant to help a company progress to the development stage, and Series B is meant to help a company market or expand its existing market footprint.)

Geoff Lewis of Bedrock Capital said in a statement that investors are “confident Epirus has the capacity to integrate its technology into top tier counter-UAS systems and lead the way in developing new and compelling directed energy applications.”

“Epirus counters the weak assumption baked into standard VC models that the economic and cultural gaps of defense-focused investments are too wide to overcome,” Lewis said.

https://www.defensenews.com/2020/12/17/counter-drone-startup-epirus-raises-70m-plans-to-hire-100-people/

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  • Can commercial satellites revolutionize nuclear command and control?

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    Can commercial satellites revolutionize nuclear command and control?

    By: Nathan Strout The rapid growth of commercial space makes the use of non-government satellites for nuclear command and control increasingly tempting, according to one official. During a speech June 26, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said that the service — which oversees both the United States' ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as strategic bombers capable of delivering nuclear warheads — was open to the idea of using private sector satellites. “Whether it's Silicon Valley or commercial space, there's unlimited opportunities ahead right now for us in terms of how we think differently on things like nuclear command and control,” said Goldfien. “I, for one, am pretty excited about it.” The military has increasingly turned to the commercial sector to expand its capabilities more cost efficiently. For instance, the National Reconnaissance Office — the agency in charge of the nation's spy satellites — announced that it was looking to expand the amount of satellite imagery it buys from commercial companies. The Air Force has also expressed interest in developing a hybrid architecture for satellite communications, which would see war fighters able to switch between commercial and military satellites as they move through coverage areas. According to Goldfein, there's no reason that commercial capabilities could not similarly be applied to nuclear C2. “The work that we're doing in connecting the force and building a network force around the services in the conventional side has equal applications to the nuclear command and control side, because at the end of the day what we need is resilient capable architecture that keeps the commander in chief connected,” said Goldfien. “So one of the areas that I think we're going to be able to leverage significantly is the rapid and exciting expansion of commercial space in bringing low-Earth orbit capabilities that will allow us to have resilient pathways to communicate.” Currently, the military relies primarily on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency System for the nuclear sector. With four satellites in orbit and a fifth to be launched later this month, AEHF provides highly secure, anti-jamming communications for the military and national leaders like the commander in chief. It wasn't clear in Goldfein's comments whether he was interested in using commercial capabilities to augment, replace or work as a backup to AEHF and other military satellite systems. He did note that the sheer volume of satellites in some commercial constellations provides increased survivability for the network. “We want to get to a point both in conventional and unconventional, or conventional and nuclear, where if some portion of the network is taken out, our answer ought to be, ‘Peh, I've got five other pathways. And you want to take out 1,000 satellites of my constellation, of which I have five? Knock yourself out.' That's what I see is going to be a significant way that we're going to be able to leverage,” said Goldfein. The possibility of lowering costs is another major incentive to turning to the commercial sector to begin providing the communications necessary. “What we want to eventually get to is the reversal of the cost curve. Right now it actually costs us more to defend than it takes to shoot. And we want to reverse that so it actually costs them more to shoot than it takes for us to defend,” explained Goldfien. Goldfein pointed to commercial launches as an area where competition had helped drive down costs. “Increased access to affordable launch and smaller payloads that are more capable has caused this rapid expansion of commercial capabilities in space,” he said. “That may be one of the most exciting developments that we have going forward, because industry is going to help us solve many of these problems.” https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/c2-comms/2019/07/12/can-commercial-satellites-revolutionize-nuclear-command-and-control/

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