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Meet DARPA's Triple-Target Terminator

Few publications can match AvWeek when it comes to enthusiasm for DARPA aerospace stories. They often capture really neat technology that has the potential to be one of those ever elusive game-changers on the battlefield or in everyday life.

The following story captures those qualities perfectly. While there's only $7 million on the table, the Triple T could be used on manned or unmanned aircraft and deployed against other planes, cruise missiles and air defenses -- quite a range of capabilities. the story also peeks at some other nifty DARPA efforts in the proposed 2010 budget.

Here's the story by Graham Warwick. A new program to develop a high-speed, long-range airborne weapon that can engage aircraft, cruise missiles and air defenses is part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency's $3.25 billion Fiscal 2010 budget request.

The Triple Target Terminator (T3) would be carried internally or externally on fighters, bombers and unmanned aircraft, allowing them to switch between air-to-air and air-to-surface capability and increasing the variety of targets engaged on each sortie.

Funding of $7 million is sought in Fiscal 2010 to begin the T3 program, which would look at technologies for propulsion, multi-mode seekers, data links, digital guidance and control and advanced warheads.

Other new program starts sought in Fiscal 2010 include: Autonomous Aerial Refueling, to demonstrate high-altitude refueling between unmanned aircraft, using probe- and drogue-equipped Global Hawk UAVs; a Transformer Vehicle (TX), a road-able aircraft with hybrid electric ducted-fan propulsion capable of flying for two hours carrying one to four people; and a Submersible Aircraft, seen as capable of flying and submerging.

Another planned new program is Silent Talk, to develop the capability to communicate without speaking by recognizing the neural signals for specific words. "The brain generates word-specific signals prior to sending electrical impulses to the vocal chords," according to Darpa.

The plan is to recognize these "intended speech" signals using electroencephalography (EEG) and translate them into words, allowing covert communications. Initially Darpa wants to identify EEG patterns unique to 100 words commonly used by warfighters.

Aviation Week's DTI | Graham Warwick | May 26, 2009 This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

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