DARPA to Set Sea-based Electronic Ambushes for Enemies

from stratrisks.com: U.S. military researchers are moving forward with a program to hide
ruggedized electronic devices at the bottom of the world’s oceans that
when called on will float to the surface to jam, disrupt, and spy on
enemy forces.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) in Arlington, Virginia, this week released a formal solicitation
(DARPA-BAA-14-27) for the second and third phases of the Upward Falling
Payloads (UFP) project to hide sensors and other devices on the ocean
floor that will last for as long as five years concealed at depths to
20,000 feet.

Last summer DARPA awarded UFP phase-one contracts to Sparton
Electronics of De Leon Springs, Florida, and to Zeta Associates Inc. in
Fairfax, Virginia, to develop conceptual designs of a future system with
the potential to launch sensors, electronic jammers, laser dazzlers,
and other devices surreptitiously and quickly in any of the world’s
maritime hot spots.

Sparton has notable expertise as a designer and manufacturer of the
U.S. Navy’s airborne sonobuoys, while Zeta designs complex
communications signals collection and processing systems for the
military and intelligence agencies.

Sparton and Zeta experts designed UFP concepts that not only would
float sensors to the ocean’s surface, but also potentially launch a wave
of distracting light strobes, blinding lasers, electronic warfare
jammers, or other kinds of non-lethal weapons able to pop up without
warning in the middle of an adversary’s naval battle group.

Sparton’s phase-one UFP conceptual contract was worth $177,697, and
Zeta’s was worth $248,004. The program’s second and third phases will be
for much bigger money, and could attract larger contractors. The second
phase will split about $21 million among three to six defense
companies. The optional third phase involving an undisclosed number of
companies, will be worth about $17 million, DARPA officials say.

The DARPA UFP program envisions a force of forward-deployed,
non-lethal weapons and sensors armed with propellant that hides on the
ocean floor and pops to the surface when needed. UFP payloads would have
communications systems that enable their deployment at standoff

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