Further solidifying its reputations for cutting edge battlefield tech and badass acronyms, DARPA has awarded BAE systems $8.4 million to develop its BLADE program (for Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare), a system of algorithms that can automatically identify and jam threatening wireless communications.
What DARPA is seeking here is communication spectrum superiority, giving friendly forces a monopoly on situational awareness and radio frequency for remotely controlled objects while denying the same to the enemy. That means developing a tool that can identify not just known communication threats, but new ones that haven't been seen before.
Currently that requires evaluation by technicians in a laboratory, which then develop a countermeasure that can be implemented. DARPA wants the capability to "counter adaptive wireless communication threats in tactical environments and in tactically relevant time scales" (read: do it here and now).
To meet DARPA's demands, BAE will need to develop software solutions that not only detect and characterize new communications threats, but also effectively jam them as well as assess how effective that jamming was. That is, DARPA wants to jam the communications and then be able to ensure that it stays jammed so that sophisticated communications devices can't circumvent BLADE without the system knowing it. Further, DARPA wants BLADE to be integrated into existing electronic warfare devices, meaning it wants new algorithms and software, not new hardware systems.
If effective, BLADE could give soldiers on the battlefield a means not just to silence enemy communications, but potentially identify and selectively jam remotely detonated IEDs, the most pervasive threat American soldiers are currently facing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Establish control of the airwaves and you don't just create a tool, but you potentially rob the enemy of one as well.
About time! It's only been, what?......10 years since the Afghanistan theater opened up?! Why are we just starting to look into this?!
Unlikely that we're just starting to look into this. It is more likely that there has been much R&D into this. Obviously BAE has been working on this now DARPA is giving the go ahead for development of the product. Things are not just developed over night. Some battlefield tech takes years, perhaps even decades, to develop.
So what happens when a remote controlled bomb is detonated by it's frequency being jammed or silenced?
It seems only a matter of time until everyone has something like this to jam everybody else- and we are all back to using eyes and ears!
@ xalar: it's good to explode such bombs before our troops get near them- and there is a chance they could explode in the hands of the insurgents carrying them!
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Someday, and maybe not in popsci, I'd like to see a perspectove article that shows how the military perceives DARPA. (maybe with some comments from the grunt level).
There are all of these reports of whiz bang tech, but no overall view of how many concepts make it, and how the priorities match the military's view of priorities.
Not saying that DARPA is bad. It would just be nice to get a sense of the big picture.
@xalar & trireme: most remote-detonated bombs are not "feed-savvy". They don't rely on a constant feed, and when it breaks, then they explode. They rely on a single input from a device (being cellphone, remote, button etc) which then activates the mechanism. Its not en electric wire that, if you cut the power, it will explode.
The problem I see here, is technology backfiring on American troops. Somehow, "smart" jamming sounds more like total com blackout to me...
I find that there may be some legitimacy in DIGMEH's comment in regards to this technology backfiring on American troops. If this technology were to be more developed and used by both sides of a conflict with success who would be seen to gain more? It would appear to be those who are less dependent on radio waves. From an uninformed standpoint that would be the United States. Off the top of my head one could use light to send signals as a back up and a means of restoring some communication however, light could only work within visible range.
OK when the bomb is strapped to a person?
I am not worried about the same tech being used against us because the people that design it will probably easily be able to think of ways to get around it. If they have not already.
Yeah guys, it sure is strange that something as rudimentary as tactical airwave superiority would need 8 mil thrown at it after 10 plus years of engagement. It's strange because it's BS. We have shown off MORE than enough of our current battletech and methods now. I've been yelling my head off for many years now that we'd have been done by now if we'd just start spraying opium poppy fields that can be seen plainly from space and from every observer craft in the air. But instead we support the opium warlords who grow the products to kill our people, and we arm them as well. Then when they don't do what we want, we go support a different warlord in HIS opium growing effort, and arm HIS guys. Most everyone over there is packin good old Made In USA heat now, complete with US military ammunition. Spray the opium fields with Paraquat. SALT THE EARTH IF NECESSARY. Kill the warlords and their women beating so-called men. BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW. How many trillions have we spent so we MIGHT be able to get PART of Afghanistan's 1-4 trillion (PopSci) mineral wealth? Start corruption trials. SEIZE OUR PEOPLE'S WEALTH BACK. Let AMERICA get back to work now.
IF THEY ARE THE RIGHTEOUS RELIGIOUS PEOPLE THEY CLAIM TO BE THEN THEY SHOULD WELCOME OUR DESTRUCTION OF THE OPIUM FIELDS.