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DARPA seeks drone radar that 'sees' through clouds

Eric Gay/AP

The Pentagon is looking for partners to develop a radar detection system that can lock onto moving targets even through clouds and dust, according to a contracting document. The technology, when mounted on remotely-piloted aircraft, could improve the quality of drone imagery, increase the precision of air strikes and reduce collateral damage in warzones.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project, called the Video Synthetic Aperture Radar program, aims to "provide the same targeting capabilities through clouds as current infrared targeting systems are able to provide in clear weather." It spotlights a problem that the CIA and military face: that drone imagery loses its clarity in poor weather and other unpredictable environmental conditions.

DARPA is seeking proposals for technology to support a demo of this system. The radar will use radio frequency technology and advanced processing algorithms. The DARPA program manager, Bruce Wallace, will provide more detail on the envisioned system at a proposers' day on April 30 in Arlington, Va. Read the notice of the event here.

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