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DARPA director: 'Revolutionary weapons require strong S&T partnerships'

ARLINGTON, Va.Touting a joint project to create a next-generation cruise missile with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on Oct. 22, the new director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) stressed the need to find radical ways to shape the future battlefield.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar spoke at the 2012 ONR Naval Science and Technology (S&T) Partnership Conference and ASNE Expo, using the ONR/DARPA effort to develop a long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM) as an example of the strong partnership needed to give U.S. warfighters a decisive edge in the future.

"It's an approach to a new weapon system that fundamentally changes the way our Sailors will engage with a very sophisticated enemy defense capability," Prabhakar said.

The objective is to give Sailors the ability to strike high-value targets from longer ranges while avoiding counter fire. The program will use autonomous guidance to find targets, reducing reliance on networking, GPS and other assets that could be compromised by enemy electronic weapons.

Along with advances in electronic warfare, cybersecurity and communications, LRASM is showing what the S&T community can accomplish by working together, Prabhakar said.

Collaboration with industry, academia and military service laboratories will help keep organizations such as ONR and DARPA vibrant and robust, she noted.

"The only way that happens is if we continue to engage this kind of very broad community," Prabhakar said. "That's how we'll put together the programs that really drive certain technology areas forward . . . and take the big steps that show people what's possible."

Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder praised Prabhakar for her dedication to innovation and a long-range vision for science and technology that goes beyond weapon systems. ONR and DARPA, for example, have also collaborated extensively to boost opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly known as STEM.

One example is the RevCon Challenge, a competition among college students to design connectors that more effectively conduct heat from radars and other military electronic systems.

"This spirit of partnership and collaboration, specifically between ONR and DARPA, has never been better," Klunder said.


Contact: Peter Vietti
Office of Naval Research

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