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Darpa dodges Obama's budget cuts

Posting in Energy

In the aftermath of the U.S. budget release, Darpa has survived unscathed.

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, has escaped crippling budgetary cuts in the aftermath of President Obama's announcement that more than $2bn will be taken from the research and developmental budget next year.

Established in 1958 and responsible for producing innovative technology for military use, the agency supplies solutions for technological challenges to the entire defence department -- including the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and United States Air Force.

As part of the budget release, the U.S. government said it would slow down the production of transport and tools relating to defence -- including ships, drones, and transport vehicles. However, the defence agency Darpa needn't have worried that it would suffer from the cuts.

Its $2.8 billion dollars a year budget has been slashed by a tiny $1.4 million dollars -- less than a half a percent drop in funding, and unlikely to cause the agency too much heartache.

However, it does not mean Darpa has escaped the economic situation of the Unites States completely unscathed. As Reuters noted, the agency's research tendencies have been curtailed and streamlined. In 2011, Darpa was involved in 230 research and development programs. This figure is expected to drop by a quarter in 2013, to be whittled down to 169.

The priorities of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency have also been tweaked. 'Machine intelligence' projects have been axed, and an unspecified initiative which is considered 'classified' has had its funding cut from $107 million to $3 million.

A new defence priority which has received initial funding of $50 million is exploration of hypersonics -- the means to travel through the air at 5 times over the speed of sound. It is reported that this is due to the Pentagon's aim to be able to strike at any target on the globe with immediate force.

The budget has suggested that technological innovation is considered key to America's economic recovery -- and this includes areas in which Darpa thrives; cyber-security and communication.

Image credit: Roger Wollstadt

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure