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MoD targets ‘integrated’ data-driven armed forces with £75m Palantir deal

The contract builds on a decade-long relationship between Palantir and the UK's defence apparatus

Palantir has announced a £75 million partnership with the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) that will see the data analytics firm support the department’s digital transformation.  

As part of the deal, Palantir said it will work closely with Defence Digital to transform how the MoD harnesses data across multiple levels of its operations and unlock greater efficiency.  

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Moving forward, the firm said the partnership will enable the MoD to treat data “as a strategic asset” to deliver a “superior military advantage”.  

“Working in close collaboration with Defence Digital, Palantir software will enable the MoD to exploit data at scale and speed to make faster, better decisions across defence,” the company said in a statement.  

“The agreement will enable any part of UK Defence to gain access to Palantir software across multiple classifications, wherever and however it can help – turning the MoD’s digital vision into reality at pace,” Palantir added.  

Transforming UK defence capabilities 

Palantir specialises in building digital platforms to support data-driven operations and decision making.  

Its software collates data into a “single view” through a modelling concept known as ‘ontology’, meaning that when data sources are integrated into the software it “digests”, cleans, and harmonises data.  

“The ontology allows users to see data not as rows and columns, but as objects, properties, and the relationships between them”, the company explained.  

By implementing this data model across the UK’s defence apparatus, Palantir said MoD personnel will be able to perform advanced scenario planning, testing hypotheses, and provide real-time models to establish how scenarios would play out during operations.  

“Whether for front-line operations, budget decisions, or maintenance planning with industry partners, Palantir’s software gives the MoD the ability to understand outcomes before making decisions.” 

Caroline Bellamy, director and chief of data at Defence Digital said the tie-up will enable the MoD to become a “truly integrated digital enterprise”.  

“A Defence where real-time, interconnected data better informs decision making, our people are digitally connected and empowered, and step changes in digital capability have been made for our war fighters and across our business operations,” she said.  

Guy Williams, head of UK defence & national security at Palantir said the partnership will accelerate the UK Armed Forces’ current ambition of becoming a more data-driven fighting force.  

“We're proud to expand our long-standing relationship with the MoD through our partnership with Defence Digital, and look forward to delivering world-leading software capabilities to enable greater operational outcomes,” he said. 

Fostering closer ties 

This deal builds on a decade-long partnership between the US-based company and Britain’s defence department.  

The Royal Navy currently uses Palantir technologies to support operational planning and logistics, and used Palantir’s Foundry system to reorganise and streamline personnel during the pandemic.

“Palantir Foundry is critical to the Royal Navy’s transformation, driving radically improved availability of its ships and submarines,” said rear admiral Jim Higham.  

Palantir’s Foundry platform is also used by the NHS to make better use of data and deliver improved clinical outcomes.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the system was used to streamline logistics and ensure that vital PPE and tools such as ventilators were rolled out efficiently across NHS services.  

Similarly, the company’s software is now being used to reduce planned care backlogs in NHS trusts across England. 

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