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Update: US Air Force contracts Kinetica for NORAD/NORTHCOM Pathfinder data fusion effort

The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Kinetica a five-year other transaction authority (OTA) contract potentially worth USD100 million to deliver a streaming data warehouse for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) Pathfinder programme.

The Pathfinder will tie independent systems together across the air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains to create a fused operational picture. USAF spokesperson William Lewis said on 16 April that the Pathfinder ingests raw radar data, fuses it, and leverages machine learning to provide actionable insights and mission outcomes to operators and senior-level decision makers.

General Glen VanHerck, NORAD and NORTHCOM chief, told a House panel on 14 April that NORAD, prior to the Pathfinder, had to perform analogue communications, such as phone calls, that would take minutes, if not longer, to perform. The Pathfinder, he said, provides a broad picture in seconds or less to help air defence sectors accomplish their mission of defending the US and Canada.

Gen VanHerck said that Canada provided additional funding to continue the Pathfinder programme. Lewis said that this was a one-time funding contribution of about USD5 million for US fiscal year (FY) 2021, which runs from 1 October 2020 through 31 September 2021. NORAD spokesperson Cameron Hiller said on 21 April that this is Canadaā€™s first funding contribution for the Pathfinder and that it has not paid the Pentagon in the past for this effort.

This contract with Kinetica transitions and expands on capabilities demonstrated during a one-year prototyping effort with NORAD, NORTHCOM, and the Pentagonā€™s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), according to a company statement. Lewis said the Pathfinderā€™s data ecosystem is in production and the effort continues toward operational acceptance.

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