Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

DARPA Logo.jpg

Emblem of the DARPA
Lineup 1958
Country United States of America
Armed forces United States Armed Forces of America
Strength 240
Insinuation United States Department of Defense
Location Arlington County
Director Peter Highnam
Deputy Director David Honey
Model of the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle HTV-1, a development as part of the FALCON joint project of the US Air Force and DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA ) (interpreting. About organization for research projects of defense ) is an agency of the Ministry of Defense of the United States , the research projects for the armed forces of the United States performs u. a. also space projects. The annual budget is around three billion US dollars (as of 2012).

Designed under the title Special Projects Agency , it was founded under the name Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 by Dwight D. Eisenhower . Since 1996, as between 1972 and 1993, it has been called DARPA. In between it was called ARPA again for three years.


On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite . This event triggered the so-called Sputnik shock in the USA . Efforts to develop military and space technologies have intensified. In November 1957, Neil H. McElroy , Secretary of Defense for a month and advised by James R. Killian , presented the concept of the ARPA to Congress. The Chamber of Commerce had already made similar proposals. The idea of ​​outsourcing research and development to the private sector also appealed to business circles.

On February 11, 1958, Congress incorporated the ARPA into a US Air Force budget bill and provided it with initial funding of $ 520 million. The budget was planned with two billion US dollars. She was given responsibility for all US space programs and advanced ballistic missile defense research , including Nike Zeus . McElroy selected Roy W. Johnson, formerly executive vice president of the General Electric Company , as government director. Herbert York became a senior scientist. Johnson previously wanted to hire Wernher von Braun for this position . The idea of ​​including him and his team of scientific colleagues in the innermost sphere of the Pentagon was rejected as unacceptable.

DARPA acted as a coordinating body for research projects that received financial support. The organization did not maintain its own research facilities, but used the potential of private and university research facilities, as well as military contractors.

Even if the projects were funded by the military, another aspect of technological research outside of military use was the economic usability of the knowledge gained. Projects that were funded or initiated by the ARPA were generally not subject to strict confidentiality, but were published publicly by the researchers, the research institutions and companies involved and presented at congresses. Successful projects include a. BSD- Unix and TCP / IP .

The ARPANET , from which the Internet emerged, can be seen as the best known and most successful project . In 1969, the ARPANET connected the four computer nodes University of California Los Angeles , Stanford Research Institute , University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Utah . In addition, the stealth technology ( Have Blue / Lockheed F-117 ) and the GPS were developed by DARPA.

Current areas of activity

Today, DARPA is primarily dedicated to the fight against terrorism. In this context, for example, the very controversial Information Awareness Office was founded by DARPA.

In 2003, the DARPA researcher in the field of machine translation called for a "blind competition". You should develop a translation system from a foreign language to English within a month. In this context, “blind” means that the researchers were not informed of the source language until the start of the competition, so that they were forced to prepare methods that could process any language if possible. The aim was to be able to provide translation systems as quickly as possible for the languages ​​of unpredictable sources of conflict (e.g. Afghanistan , Iraq ) without the usual several years of research and development. Blind language was Hindi after all ; the competition was won by the German Franz Josef Och with a translation system based on statistical models.

In 2004/2005 the DARPA Grand Challenge took place, in which autonomous land vehicles competed against each other.

Continuous Assisted Performance

A program entitled “Continuous Assisted Performance” aims to “use biotechnological means (implants, manipulation of the metabolism, etc.)” to ensure that soldiers can stay awake for up to seven days without losing their minds.

The American Air Force has been making first, comparatively harmless attempts for years and has prescribed the use of dexedrine ( amphetamine ) for its pilots . In the future, the soldiers' muscle and stamina strength will also be increased using such medicinal or genetic methods - the project is called “Metabolic Dominance and Engineered Tissue”.

However, since the frequent use of amphetamines is harmful to health, DARPA is looking for alternatives as part of the Continuous Assisted Performance program.

In this context there are reports of close cooperation with the US pharmaceutical manufacturer Cephalon . Among other things, Cephalon produces the drug Provigil (available in Germany under the name Vigil). Provigil (active ingredient: Modafinil ) is a highly potent stimulant and belongs to a group of psychostimulating drugs that differ significantly from amphetamine-like stimulants in terms of their molecular structure.

DARPA and Cephalon recently sponsored a study at Harvard University in which 16 healthy volunteers had to go 28 hours without sleep. The subjects with added modafinil performed better in the cognitive tests than those with sugar placebo.

Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication

In February 2008 DARPA commissioned the American software company Sun with research on new optical chip connections. DARPA Sun made 44.29 million US dollars available for this.

Sun's research assignment was part of the DARPA project "Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication" and dealt with the optical networks to connect chips together. The goal was to build supercomputers with very inexpensive processors that are connected to each other via optical networks and thus scale very well. The optical connections are supposed to ensure high data throughput with low latencies .

Sun cooperated with Proximity Communication, whose I / O technology is used to connect chips to one another. The aim is to create so-called virtual “macrochips” - a large number of individual chips that work like a single, very large chip in relation to the system.

See also


  • Katie Hafner, Matthew Lyon: Arpa Kadabra or the history of the Internet . Translated from the American by Gabriele Herbst. dpunkt-Verlag, Heidelberg 2000, 2nd corrected edition, ISBN 3-932588-59-2 .
    Original edition: Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet . Simon & Schuster, New York 1996, ISBN 0-684-81201-0 .
  • Annie Jacobsen: The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency. Little, Brown and Company , New York 2015, ISBN 9780316387699 .
  • Sharon Weinberger: The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World . Knopf Publishing Group, New York 2018, ISBN 9780385351799
  • Richard J. Barber Associates: The Advanced Research Projects Agency, 1958-1974 . In: Defense Technical Information Center . December 1975, archived from the original on May 16, 2020; Retrieved on May 16, 2020 (detailed report on the history of ARPA, previously under lock and key, commissioned by the agency itself).
  • US Department of Defense : Interview with Robert Sproull ( Agency Director 1963–1965). In: Executive Services Directorate . December 7, 2006, p. 81, archived from the original on March 9, 2019; accessed on May 18, 2020

Web links

Commons : Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. Dr. Peter Highnam ACTING DIRECTOR, DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY. P. 1 , accessed on May 29, 2020 (English).
  3. Dr. David Honey ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY. P. 1 , accessed on May 29, 2020 (English).
  4. Noah Shachtman: Darpa Dodges Obama Budget Death Ray, Keeps Its $ 2.8 Billion. In: Wired. February 14, 2012, accessed on May 16, 2020 .
  5. ^ Richard J. Barber Associates: The Advanced Research Projects Agency, 1958-1974. II-10. In: Defense Technical Information Center. December 1975, p. 58 , accessed on May 16, 2020 (English).
  6. ^ ARPA-DARPA: The History of the Name. (No longer available online.) In: DARPA. April 14, 2006, archived from the original on April 7, 2007 ; accessed on May 16, 2020 (English).
  7. ^ A b Yasha Levine: Surveillance valley: the secret military history of the internet . PublicAffairs, New York 2018, ISBN 978-1-61039-803-9 , America Goes Ballistic (English).
  8. a b Katie Hafner, Matthew Lyon: Where wizards stay up late: the origins of the Internet . Ed .: Pocket Books. London 2003, ISBN 0-7434-6837-6 , pp. 18th ff . "The US Chamber of Commerce had floated the notion of creating a single research-and-development agency for the federal government during congressional hearings months before Sputnik. Talk to something in the air. "
  9. ^ Richard J. Barber Associates: The Advanced Research Projects Agency, 1958-1974. I-7. In: Defense Technical Information Center. December 1975, p. 23 , accessed on May 16, 2020 (English).
  10. ^ John L. Sloop: Liquid hydrogen as a propulsion fuel, 1945-1959: 9. The Early US Space Program: Consolidation of Military Space Projects. In: The NASA history series. April 1977, accessed May 16, 2020 .
  11. ^ Richard J. Barber Associates: The Advanced Research Projects Agency, 1958-1974. II-25. In: Defense Technical Information Center. December 1975, p. 75 , accessed on May 16, 2020 (English).
  12. I. Klabukov, A. Yakovets, M. Alekhin: Management of Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance of DARPA Research Program . In: Innovatsii (innovations) , 5 (223), 2017, pp. 12-19. doi: 10.5281 / zenodo.1173043
  13. Marco Evers: Hindi in four weeks. In: Der Spiegel. September 15, 2003, accessed May 16, 2020 .
  14. ^ Richard Schneider: Statistical translation with parallel texts. In: Translator Portal., September 17, 2003, accessed on May 16, 2020 .
  15. David Plotz: Medicines: 100 milligrams of work anger . In: Die Zeit , No. 35/2003
  16. a b Kai Biermann: Übermenschen for the Pentagon. (No longer available online.) In: Netzeitung. September 3, 2003, archived from the original on January 4, 2014 ; accessed on May 16, 2020 .
  17. Jörg Auf dem Hövel: Brain doping: eyes straight ahead. In: Telepolis . October 23, 2007, accessed December 8, 2014 .
  18. Jens Ihlenfeld: Sun is researching macrochips on behalf of DARPA. Research contract around optical chip connections. In: March 25, 2008, accessed May 16, 2020 .