Palantir's partnership approach also has a customer element

The Palantir logo on its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5 in Las Vegas.

The Palantir logo on its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5 in Las Vegas. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

Palantir is increasingly eyeing blue chip defense hardware makers as both partners and buyers of its flagship big data software offerings, a concept that puts new meaning to the word "disruption."

Palantir leaves little doubt in the world with respect to how it wants to be seen as a competitor and disruptor in the larger U.S. government technology market: the goal is to be that customer set's default central operating system.

But the big data software company's view of the landscape also evidently has that word "customer" stretching beyond the agencies to many of the blue chip defense hardware companies that are leaning on software to make systems.

During Palantir's third quarter earnings call with investors Tuesday, Chief Technology Officer Shyam Sankar indicated that one way to disrupt the defense industrial base is to turn many of those large prime contractors into business partners and customers.

"There's a lot of talk in defense tech circles about disrupting the primes, and I think there's incredible opportunity to transform what's possible with software," Sankar told analysts. "They're crucial to our national security and that's because production does matter. You have to bend metal at the end of the day, and using 10 years of munitions in 10 weeks in Ukraine really underscores that point."

In one partnership example Sankar offered, Northrop has joined a Palantir-led team that is one of two vying for a long-term contract to build an Army intelligence ground station.

The service branch's vision for the future Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node is to have it be the first such station enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

Raytheon is the other competitor for Titan, an industry matchup that harkens back to when these two companies went head-to-head for task orders in the Army's Distributed Common Ground Systems-A battlefield intelligence program.

Palantir is also working with Lockheed Martin on implementing more modern software into Navy combat systems.

Within the industry itself, Sankar said two of the defense primes are using Palantir's Apollo operating system for continuous delivery and software deployment techniques. A second pair of primes are using Palantir's Foundry data and analytics platform for their internal production and systems integration efforts, Shankar added.

Palantir can also be considered a player to watch in the government cloud landscape, given how that company's offering is one of three with an Impact Level 6 provisional authorization from the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Impact Level 6 is the federal government's strictest security and compliance standard for being allowed to process classified data for cloud-based workloads. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are the only other two cloud hosting providers with the IL6 labeling.

Palantir's cloud offering also has cleared the FedRAMP process for authorizing cloud services to be used by federal agencies.

Alex Karp, co-founder and chief executive of Palantir, told analysts the idea behind Palantir's cloud approach and getting the FedRAMP certification was to make data access easier for users in government agencies and the company's industry partners.

There are limits to what Palantir wants to do and who it wants to be.

"We're also realistic, it's not good for us to be fighting battles," Karp said. "We know we're much better at software, we have no interest in going into hardware."

Of course and in keeping with his form: Karp could not resist having a shot across the bow at current and perceived competitors of Palantir in the software game:

"I think increasingly, they know they should not fight us on software, although some still do, which is largely stupid."