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.