The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency is exploring future battlefield technologies designed to confuse enemy forces.
Drawing on all sorts of techniques, they're intended to produce frontline illusions intended to disrupt enemy warfighters' thought patterns and give them ‘auditory and visual hallucinations'.
$4m is being invested in DARPA's ‘Battlefield Illusion' programme and it's just one of a whole collection of new projects recently launched by the agency. Also now in progress is the ‘Electro-Optical Warfare' programme - a $3.5m signals intelligence-driven project - and the ‘Multi-Function Optical Sensor' programme, from which US military aircraft will be given "an alternative approach to detecting, tracking, and performing non-cooperative target identification."
The Battlefield Illusion programme's background is covered in a piece recently published by Wired which, quoting DARPA, explains: ‘The current operational art of human-sensory battlefield deception is largely an ad-hoc practice'.
However, armed with better knowledge of "how humans use their brains to process sensory inputs", military scientists should then have the tools to produce "auditory and visual" hallucinations, designed to "provide tactical advantage for our forces."
The Battlefield Illusion project's ultimate goal is to "demonstrate and assess the operational effectiveness of advanced human-deceptive technologies on military ground, sea, and airborne systems."
DARPA Illusion Programme
Although the DARPA illusion programme is set to reach a whole new level of technological accomplishment, visual tricks have long been used as a military tactic. For example, during WW2, a range of fake submarines and tanks were built and launched to confuse the enemy - a procedure recently repeated in Russia where inflatable weapons and aircraft have been produced.
DARPA was set up in 1958 to develop new US military technologies. In a statement published on its website, it describes how it ‘looks beyond today's known needs and requirements', adding: ‘DARPA's approach is to imagine what capabilities a military commander might want in the future and accelerate those capabilities into being through technology demonstrations.
‘These not only provide options to the commander, but also change minds about what is technologically possible today'.
Image copyright USAF