Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Systems of Systems

Related to new capabilities based on synergy among multiple diverse systems

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The rapid evolution of small unmanned air system (sUAS) technologies is fueling the exponential growth of the commercial drone sector, creating new asymmetric threats for warfighters. DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program seeks to develop an integrated system capable of defeating self-guided sUAS (i.e., those that do not rely on a radio or GPS receiver for their operation) attacking a high-value convoy on the move, and recently awarded Phase 1 agreements to start research.
The rise of network-connected systems that are becoming embedded seemingly everywhere–from industrial control systems to aircraft avionics–is opening up a host of rich technical capabilities in deployed systems. Even so, as the collective technology project underlying this massive deployment of connectivity unfolds, more consumer, industrial, and military players are turning to inexpensive, commodity off-the-shelf (COTS) devices with general-purpose designs applicable for a range of functionalities and deployment options. While less costly and more flexible, commodity components are inherently less secure than the single-purpose, custom devices they are replacing.
There is increasing interest in making broader use of the millimeter wave frequency band for communications on small mobile platforms where narrow antenna beams from small radiating apertures provide enhanced communication security. Today’s millimeter wave systems, however, are not user friendly and are designed to be platform specific, lacking interoperability and are thus reserved for only the most complex platforms. To expand the use of millimeter wave phased-arrays and make them broadly applicable across DoD systems, many technical challenges must be addressed, including wideband frequency coverage, precision beam pointing, user discover and mesh networking.
Today, the expeditious delivery of electronic documents, messages, and other data is relied on for everything from communications to navigation. As the near instantaneous exchange of information has increased in volume, so has the variety of electronic data formats–from images and videos to text and maps. Verifying the trustworthiness and provenance of this mountain of electronic information is an exceedingly difficult task as individuals and organizations routinely engage with data shared by unauthenticated and potentially compromised sources.
The joint DARPA/U.S. Army Operational Fires (OpFires) program will soon kick off with three performers awarded contracts to begin work: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Exquadrum, and Sierra Nevada Corporation. OpFires aims to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time sensitive targets.