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DARPA call for innovative mission system concepts and Breakthrough Technologies for peer adversaries

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO) DARPA has released a broad agency announcement (BAA) in Nov 2021 on a funding opportunity for research and development of mission system concepts to help the U.S. military address the challenges of peer competition.

 

For decades, the United States has enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every
operating domain. Today, every domain – air, land, sea, space and cyberspace – is contested and
challenged by peer competitors, who have had decades to study our strengths, and are hard at
work developing counters to degrade the advantages we currently possess. The United States
faces an ever more lethal and disruptive battlefield, combined across domains, and conducted at increasing speed and reach—from close combat, throughout overseas theaters, and reaching to
our homeland.

 

DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO) is seeking innovative ideas and disruptive
technologies that provide the U.S. military with increased lethality against peer nation threats
and enable a diverse and robust range of options in all phases of competition. STO seeks to carry
out DARPA’s mission of creating high-risk, high-reward “breakthrough” technologies with a
focus on ambitious, difficult, and revolutionary projects that achieve significant changes or
fundamental shifts in technical capabilities and give our warfighters new ways to fight.

 

STO is a “systems office,” seeking to create new “proof-of-concept” mission systems. Its goals
are to develop and demonstrate new capabilities that expand what is technically possible. STO is
primarily interested in technical solutions associated with mission systems technology – e.g.
autonomy and command & control (C2) algorithms, communications and networking, sensing,
and non-kinetic effects.

STO is developing a mission-focused technology portfolio aimed at peer competition across all
phases and levels of intensity. When one looks at the full spectrum of peer competition, there are
two fundamental drivers:

  • The pace of peer modernization and growth of conventional military capabilities; and
  • The effectiveness of peer adversary incremental expansion of influence and coercion by
    management of escalation and competitive actions below the threshold of conventional
    conflict

 

STO is helping to address these challenges with two major thrust areas: (1) Mosaic Warfare
(MW) and (2) Shaping the Battlespace (StB).

 

1. Mosaic Warfare (MW)

Technology to maintain a combat-credible conventional deterrent through disaggregation of
capabilities and re-composition of adaptable effects chains at mission speed. At the core of
STO’s MW thrust is a sub-thrust called Mosaic Infrastructure, which is developing the tools and
infrastructure to provide warfighters more combat options to adapt to opportunities, surprises, and disruptions with the speed and agility of mission planning. Additionally, STO’s MW thrust is
developing Mosaic Targeting technologies to take advantage of mosaic architectures. Assuming
that Mosaic Infrastructure will enable distributed, disaggregated effects chains, Mosaic Targeting
is re-imaging how sensors and electromagnetic warfare (EW) technologies may be designed for
use in these novel architectures to provide new long-range kill chains for friendly warfighters
and counters to adversary targeting.

 

2. Shaping the Battlespace (StB)

Technology to provide military leaders options across the spectrum of peer competition. These
concepts will enable military means to deter and impose cost to contain expansionism and ensure
U.S. and coalition partners freedom of operations and tactical advantage while driving de-escalation.

Topic Areas of Interest

Research areas of current interest to STO include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Acoustic communication and sensing
  • Adaptability
  • Advanced computing
  • Architecture and advanced systems engineering
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Autonomy and control algorithms
  • “Big data” analytics
  • Combat identification
  • Communications and networking, virtual and adaptive
  • Complexity management
  • Critical infrastructure defense
  • Decision Aids and C2 technology
  • DevOps and novel software development and integration
  • Digital twins
  • Directed energy (DE)
  • Distributed autonomy and teaming (machine-machine, human-machine)
  • Effects chain functions (disaggregated Find, Fix, Finish, Target, Engage, Assess)
  • Electro-Optic/Infrared sensors
  • Electromagnetic Warfare (EW)
  • High frequency (HF) communications and sensing
  • High voltage electric power systems and architecture
  • Human behavior modeling
  • Human-machine symbiosis
  • Logistics and supply chain analytics and C2
  • Integration and reliability technologies
  • Interoperability
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Microwave and millimeter-wave communications and sensing
  • Novel kinetic effects
  • Non-kinetic effects (EW, DE, cyber)
  • Photonics
  • Radio technologies (especially software-defined and novel waveforms and processing)
  • Radar and adaptive arrays
  • Robotics
  • Seekers and other expendable sensors and processing
  • Sensors and analytics
  • Signal processing
  • Space sensors, communications, autonomy, and architectures (especially supporting
    proliferated low earth orbit constellations)
  • Strategy analysis technology
  • System of systems
  • Undersea and seabed technology
  • Tactics development technology
  • Testing and data collection
  • Very Low Frequency (VLF) technology

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