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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

From Academic Kids

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA was established in 1958 in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik, with the mission of keeping the US's military technology ahead of its enemies. DARPA is independent from other more conventional military R&D and reports directly to senior Department of Defense management. DARPA has around 240 personnel (about 140 technical) directly managing a $2 billion budget. These figures are "on average" since DARPA focuses on short-term (two to four-year) projects run by small, purpose-built teams.

ARPA was its original name, then it was renamed DARPA (for Defense) in 1972, then back to ARPA in 1993, and then back to DARPA again on March 11 1996.

ARPA was responsible for funding development of ARPANET (which grew into the Internet), as well as the Berkeley version of Unix (BSD) and TCP/IP.

Contents

DARPA's Mission

From DARPA's own introduction (pdf) (http://www.darpa.mil/body/pdf/BridgingTheGap_Feb_05.pdf): "DARPA is a Defense Agency with a unique role within DoD. DARPA is not tied to a specific operational mission: DARPA supplies technological options for the entire Department, and is designed to be the “technological engine” for transforming DoD.

Near-term needs and requirements generally drive the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force to focus on those needs at the expense of major change. Consequently, a large organization like DoD needs a place like DARPA whose only charter is radical innovation.

DARPA looks beyond today’s known needs and requirements. As military historians note, “None of the most important weapons transforming warfare in the 20th century – the airplane, tank, radar, jet engine, helicopter, electronic computer, not even the atomic bomb – owed its initial development to a doctrinal requirement or request of the military.”7 None of them. And to this list, DARPA would add unmanned systems, stealth, global positioning system (GPS) and Internet technologies.

DARPA’s approach is to imagine what capabilities a military commander might want in the future and accelerate those capabilities into being through technology demonstrations. These not only provide options to the commander, but also change minds about what is technologically possible today."

History

DARPA was created as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), by Public Law 85-325 and Department of Defense Directive 5105.41, in February 1958. Its creation was directly attributed to the launching of Sputnik and to U.S. realization that the Soviet Union had developed the capacity to rapidly exploit military technology. Additionally, the political and defense communities recognized the need for a high-level Department of Defense organization to formulate and execute R&D projects that would expand the frontiers of technology beyond the immediate and specific requirements of the Military Services and their laboratories. In pursuit of this mission, DARPA has developed and transferred technology programs encompassing a wide range of scientific disciplines which address the full spectrum of national security needs.

From 1958-1965, ARPA's emphasis centered on major national issues, including space, ballistic missile defense, and nuclear test detection. In 1960, all of its civilian space programs were transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the military space programs to the individual Services. This allowed DARPA to concentrate its efforts on the DEFENDER (defense against ballistic missiles), Project Vela (nuclear test detection), and AGILE (counterinsurgency R&D) Programs, and to begin work on computer processing, behavioral sciences, and materials sciences. The DEFENDER and AGILE Programs formed the foundation of DARPA sensor, surveillance, and directed energy R&D, particularly in the study of radars, infrared sensing, and x-ray/gamma ray detection.

In the late 1960s, with the transfer of these mature programs to the Services, ARPA redefined its role and concentrated on a diverse set of relatively small, essentially exploratory research programs. The Agency was renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1972, and in the early 1970s, it emphasized direct energy programs, information processing, and tactical technologies. In the area of information processing, DARPA made great strides through the evolution of ARPANET (telecommunications network and precursor to the Internet) and research in the artificial intelligence (AI) fields of speech recognition and signal processing. DARPA also funded the development of NLS, the first hypertext system, and the Aspen Movie Map, which was probably the first hypermedia system and an important precursor of virtual reality.

From 1976-1981, DARPA's major thrusts were dominated by air, land, sea, and space technology, such as follow-on forces attack with standoff weapons and associated Command, Control, and Communications; tactical armor and anti-armor programs; infrared sensing for space-based surveillance; high-energy laser technology for space-based missile defense; antisubmarine warfare; advanced cruise missiles; advanced aircraft; defense applications of advanced computing; and stealth technology. These large-scale technological program demonstrations were joined by integrated circuit research, which resulted in submicron electronic technology and electron devices that evolved into the Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Program and the Congressionally mandated charged particle beam program. Many of the successful programs were transitioned to the Services, such as the Have Blue which culminated in the F-117 Nighthawk, and the foundation technologies in automatic target recognition, space based sensing, propulsion, and materials that were transferred to the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO), now known as the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO).

During the 1980s, the attention of the Agency was centered on information processing and aircraft-related programs, including the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) or Hypersonic Research Program. The Strategic Computing Program enabled DARPA to exploit advanced processing and networking technologies and to rebuild and strengthen relationships with universities after the Vietnam War. In addition, DARPA began to pursue new concepts for small, lightweight satellites (LIGHTSAT) and directed new programs regarding defense manufacturing, submarine technology, and armor/anti-armor.


Current Organization

DARPA has eight program offices, all of which report to DARPA director Dr. Anthony J. Tether:

  1. The Advanced Technology Office (ATO) researches, demonstrates, and develops high payoff projects in maritime, communications, special operations, command and control, and information assurance and survivability mission areas.
  2. The Defense Sciences Office vigorously pursues the most promising technologies within a broad spectrum of the science and engineering research communities and develops those technologies into important, radically new military capabilities.
  3. The Information Processing Technology Office focuses on inventing the networking, computing, and software technologies vital to ensuring DOD military superiority.
  4. The Information Exploitation Office develops sensor and information system technology and systems with application to battle space awareness, targeting, command and control, and the supporting infrastructure required to address land-based threats in a dynamic, closed-loop process.
  5. The Microsystems Technology Office mission focuses on the heterogeneous microchip-scale integration of electronics, photonics, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Their high risk/high payoff technology is aimed at solving the national level problems of protection from biological, chemical and information attack and to provide operational dominance for mobile distributed command and control, combined manned/unmanned warfare, and dynamic, adaptive military planning and execution.
  6. The Special Projects Office (SPO) researches, develops, demonstrates, and transitions technologies focused on addressing present and emerging national challenges. SPO investments range from the development of enabling technologies to the demonstration of large prototype systems. SPO is developing technologies to counter the emerging threat of underground facilities used for purposes ranging from command-and-control, to weapons storage and staging, to the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. SPO is also developing significantly more cost-effective ways to counter proliferated, inexpensive cruise missiles, UAVs, and other platforms used for weapon delivery, jamming, and surveillance. SPO is investing in novel space technologies across the spectrum of space control applications including rapid access, space situational awareness, counterspace, and persistent tactical grade sensing approaches including extremely large space apertures and structures.
  7. The Tactical Technology Office engages in high-risk, high-payoff advanced military research, emphasizing the "system" and "subsystem" approach to the development of aeronautic, space, and land systems as well as embedded processors and control systems.
  8. The Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) Office is the DARPA activity charged with leading the DoD effort to develop and demonstrate the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems.

Accomplishments

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Illustration of DARPA accomplishments, including basic technologies for , , and the .

Controversy

DARPA received media attention in 2002 and 2003 after its creation of projects like the Information Awareness Office and Combat Zones That See (CTS), which civil liberties activists on both the left wing and right wing claim are unacceptably Orwellian.

See also

References

This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL.

External links

de:DARPA es:Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency fr:Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hu:DARPA nl:DARPA ja:防衛高等研究計画局 no:Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency pl:DARPA

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