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2003-07-09

Pentagon Goes Sci-Fi: A Review of DARPA’s Plans to Build Hypersonic Attack Drones, the Big Brother-like Lifelog and a Massive Urban Surveillance System

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The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announces new projects that would give U.S. military the ability to strike at any target in the world within two hours without the need of foreign bases. Meanwhile proposed surveillance programs raise ire of civil libertarians.

Hypersonic drones that fly 10 times the speed of sound.

A digital super diary that records everything a person does.

Cameras that track and identify every vehicle and its passengers.

These are some of the technologies being developed by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA.

DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense.

Last week the Guardian of London reported that DARPA is developing a new line of superweapons including huge hypersonic drones that fly 10 times the speed of sound and space-based bombers. The new technology would allow the US military to strike anywhere in the globe at lightning speed from within the U.S. border.

The Guardian went on to report that the new superweapons would free the military?s dependence on overseas military bases and it would decrease the need for cooperation from its allies.

The U.S. is hoping to develop an unmanned attack drone that could fly 10 times the speed of sound and be able to drop 12,000 pounds of bombs.

The new weapons are being developed under a program codenamed Falcon which stands for Force Application and Launch from the Continental US.

Jane’s Defense Weekly reports the government has just begun accepting bids on the project which could take 20 years to develop.

DARPA is also overseeing a project called "Combat Zones That See" that would allow military officials to track and identify every vehicle and its passengers in a city by using high-tech computers and a team of cameras. The images would be automatically analyzed by computers. Warning messages would be generated if a wanted vehicle or person was located.

The Pentagon is saying it needs the program to keep watch on foreign cities during military conflicts but privacy experts say the technology could be adapted to spy on Americans. Many fear it will be used more by the Department of Homeland Security than the Pentagon.

And finally, DARPA is overseeing a project to develop a digital super diary that captures and analyzes a multimedia record of everywhere a subject goes and everything he or she sees, hears, reads, says and touches. Data is captured by a camera, microphone and sensors worn by the user. The project is known as LifeLog.

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