DARPA Seeks the Finish Line

DARPA displayed dozens of its programs at the Pentagon Wednesday in an effort to connect with its DOD customers and, in turn, make those projects operational. “We really care about driving the technology forward, but it doesn’t really count until we get across the finish line,” DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar told reporters during the event. A Link 16 upgrade is one of the agency’s projects that is gaining traction with the services, Prabhakar said. The Link 16 tactical data exchange network is vulnerable to enemy jamming, Prabhakar said, but DARPA thinks it has the fix. The Communications Under Extreme RF, Spectrum Conditions (CommEx), Prabhakar said, will be able to protect against changing jamming technology, and the program now has a ramp onto an upgrade cycle for Link 16. “I’m really happy that we’re going to get some of that technology deployed and operational to protect against some threats that we know we have to deal with,” Prabhakar said. But the CommEx, she said, is only the first step in DARPA’s bigger ambition: “dynamically controlling the electromagnetic spectrum in a very contested environment.”