Military Embedded Systems

Space-based radar program from DARPA awards four contracts


May 22, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Umbra image

ARLINGTON, Va. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded four contracts for its DRIFT [Digital Radar Image Formation Technology] project, which is intended to improve synthetic aperture radar (several SAR) technology in satellites.

The DRIFT program focuses on using data from several SAR satellites flown in formation to develop innovative processing algorithms for groundbreaking advances in U.S. radar and RF capability during warfare. T

DARPA reports that DRIFT awards were made in late 2022 and early 2023 to Umbra, PredaSAR (a Terran Orbital unit), Northrop Grumman, and Jacobs; the agency says that DRIFT is a key part of its "Mosaic Warfare" concept, under which individual warfighting platforms are put together to make a larger picture or force package in order to overwhelm adversaries with a large number of weapon and sensor platforms.

DARPA information reveals that the initial phase of DRIFT will see development of algorithms and software which generate simulated radar data that will be used to test the algorithms. A second phase would call for the satellite providers to collect on-orbit data that will be provided to the algorithm developers, while a phase 3 would see the algorithm developers optimize their products to run on what DARPA calls "tactically relevant timescales."  

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