Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List


Bullets, bombs and other projectiles used as weapons

Showing 7 results for Munitions + Air RSS
DARPA occasionally stands up temporary special projects offices focused on coordinating, developing and/or deploying advanced capabilities on an accelerated time scale. These efforts fall outside of DARPA’s typical program structure and leverage the Agency’s unique organization and skill sets to make rapid progress in technology areas that are critical to national security. DARPA currently operates one special projects office: the Aerospace Projects Office (APO).
The mission of DARPA/TTO is to provide or prevent strategic and tactical surprise with very high-payoff, high-risk development and demonstration of revolutionary new platforms in Ground Systems, Maritime (Surface and Undersea) Systems, Air Systems, and Space Systems.
The mission of the Tactical Technology Office (TTO) is to transform the future of warfighting through high-risk, high-payoff development and demonstration of advanced space, air, maritime, and ground weapons, platforms, systems and technologies.
In 1978, DARPA integrated a number of technologies—including lasers, electro-optical sensors, microelectronics, data processors, and radars—important for precision guided munitions (PGMs) under its Assault Breaker program. Over a four-year period, Assault Breaker laid the technological foundation for several smart-weapon systems that were ultimately fielded with high success. Among these systems are the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), which integrated PGMs with advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems developed with DARPA support; the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles; a U.S. Air Force air-to-ground missile with terminally guided submunitions; the long-range, quick-response, surface-to-surface Army Tactical Missile System (ATMS), which featured all-weather, day/night capability effective against mobile and other targets; and the Brilliant Anti-armor Tank (BAT) submunition, which used acoustic sensors on its wings to detect and target tanks.

Building on the momentum of jet engine research prior to ARPA’s creation, the Agency joined with the U.S. Army in 1965 on the Individual Mobility System (IMS) project (1965-1969) with the goal of extending the range and endurance of the Bell Rocket Belt developed for the Army in the 1950s. With DARPA funding, Bell replaced the vertical lift rocket system with a compact, highly efficient turbofan engine that Williams Research Corporation was developing.

The DARPA project helped bring the WR-19 turbofan engine into full development. It also brought it to the attention of the U.S. Air Force, for which the engine demonstrated excellent horizontal flight characteristics. The engine was adapted for use in the new Air Force cruise missile program. The U.S. Navy also became interested in the Williams Research engines as it adapted cruise missiles for maritime applications.

By the 1990s, improved versions of the Williams engine would power all the air, surface, and subsurface launched cruise missiles in the Navy and Air Force inventories. Later incarnation of these propulsion technology developments would power the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles and Navy Tomahawk cruise missiles in Desert Storm in 1991 and in subsequent conflicts.