May 21, 2016

DARPA Upward Falling Payloads Program swimming slowly

Above, this chap describes the DARPA Upward Falling Payloads project in 2013. It seems a very gradual program. Below in a 2016 newspaper report.

On May 14, 2016, Mark Prigg, UK DailyMail, excitedly reported about secret pods being developed that will hide swarms of hibernating US Navy drones deep below the sea for years at a time.


More soberly this is the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) Program consisting of pods laid first by US Navy ships, subs, aircraft or by large UUVs. Then:

1. perhaps months or years later if a Threat (like a passing ship or sub) emerges a Trigger (perhaps triggered by passive sonar or remotely triggered from a US Base) will

2.  release the pod (called the "Riser") from the seabed or from its tether. The Riser floats up near to the surface or to the surface and then releases

3.  the Payload, which may be a group of very small UAVs or UUVs then unfurl their wings or fins and start moving toward the Target.

DARPA call the pods 'Upward Falling Payloads' here launching UAVs to follow ships or spy on land targets.

The UAVs and UUVs could be used for:

1.  Surveillance including chasing slower moving subs and ships

2.  Act as (wireless (no wires needed)) distributed communications links OR

3.  more darkly and not official policy, to destroy a sub, small ship or UAVs destroying a land target.

Advantages over much more expensive reconnaissance submarines are that subs may only be on station for a maximum mission length of 6 months (for an SSN) while Upward Falling Payloads can sit on, or near, the seafloor for years.

Nearly 50% of the world's oceans are deeper than 4 km. So another advantage is that instead of only waiting at the 500 meter maximum depth of a submarine, Upward Falling Payloads can theoretically operate down to a very deep seafloor.

There are disadvantages however. Upward Falling Payloads could be:

-  captured and "turned" to operate against the US Navy or against civilian ships and land targets
-  jammed, rendering them useless, or
-  wear out faster than predicted making them less reliable than a submarine.

Here's the actual DARPA Upward Falling Payloads Website.


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