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Systems of Systems

Related to new capabilities based on synergy among multiple diverse systems

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For decades, the United States has successfully countered the threats of competitor nations by harnessing advanced technologies to create exceedingly robust and capable military platforms. But as advanced technologies have become more readily available to adversaries on commercial markets, the Nation’s focus on ever more complex weapons systems has become not just a strength but also a weakness. Effective as they are, U.S. military systems today are often too expensive to procure in the quantities needed, and may take so long to develop that the electronic components they contain are obsolete by the time they become operational.
DARPA has awarded a contract for the third and final phase of its Advanced RF Mapping program, known as RadioMap, which seeks to provide real-time awareness of radio spectrum use across frequency, geography and time. Akin to smartphone maps that show color-coded current traffic conditions, RadioMap is developing technology that visually overlays spectrum information on a map enabling rapid frequency deconfliction and maximizing use of available spectrum for communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems.
Airspace for the flying public today is perpetually congested yet remarkably safe, thanks in no small part to a well-established air traffic control system that tracks, guides and continuously monitors thousands of flights a day. When it comes to small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as commercial quadcopters, however, no such comprehensive tracking system exists.
In the latest episode of DARPA podcast series, Voices from DARPA, Fariba Fahroo of the Agency’s Defense Sciences Office discusses just how pivotal mathematics can be for, in her words, “keeping our models honest.” By characterizing the uncertainties inherent in the computer models we use to better understand complex phenomena, such as the flow of air over aircraft surfaces and through high-performance engines, as well as to design, engineer, and control today’s ever more complicated civilian and military systems, Fahroo aims to develop modeling frameworks by which these systems can be built and deployed with more confidence and insight than ever into their strengths and vulnerabilities.
As nation-state and non-state adversaries adapt and apply commercially available state-of-the-art technology in urban conflict, expeditionary U.S. forces face a shrinking operational advantage. To address this challenge, a new DARPA program is aiming to create powerful, digital tools for exploring novel expeditionary urban operations concepts—with a special emphasis on coastal cities, where future such battles are deemed most likely to occur. The program will test the new tools and concepts in an integrated virtual environment, with the ultimate goal of developing fluidly composable force packages able to maximize tactical advantage in these complex, urban environments.