DARPA Seeks Blockchain Messaging System for Battlefield Use

A major US defense agency devoted to advanced R&D is seeking to create a secure-blockchain-based messaging system.

AccessTimeIconApr 25, 2016 at 4:50 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:14 p.m. UTC

A major US defense agency devoted to advanced R&D is seeking to create a secure, blockchain-based messaging system.

Disclosure of the still-theoretical system, comes courtesy of a notice posted to the website of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an office in the US Department of Defense (DoD) that has long played a role in promoting emerging technologies.

Among the more famous DARPA projects as ARPANET, a predecessor of today’s Internet.

According to the notice, DARPA is seeking pitches for a "secure messaging system" that would use a "decentralized ledger" to facilitate the broadcast of encrypted secrets in a transparent fashion.

The notice explains:

"There is a critical DoD need to develop a secure messaging and transaction platform accessible via web browser or standalone native application. The platform separates the message creation, from the transfer of the message within a secure courier to the reception and decryption of the message."

DARPA envisions three stages for the project.

The first would focus on the development of a system "built on the framework of an existing blockchain framework", suggesting that an existing blockchain like bitcoin’s could be used directly or as inspiration.

From there, prototypes and commercial-scale versions of the network would see development and deployment, according to the notice.

Possible applications

According to DARPA, the proposed system could function as a means for offices within the DoD to interact with one another in a secure way.

Specific applications include the use of the network to organize satellite communications or facilitate interdepartmental purchases within the DoD.

The notice states:

"By doing this, significant portions of the DoD back office infrastructure can be decentralized, 'smart documents and contracts' can be instantly and securely sent and received thereby reducing exposure to hackers and reducing needless delays in DoD back office correspondence. As an example, Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests (MIPR) could be implemented using the secure ledger.”

As a result, oversight of such purchase requests could be magnified due to the transparent nature of those distributed ledgers used, DARPA goes on to say.

The network would also potentially see battlefield applications. According to DARPA, the messaging system could be leveraged during instances in which troops are attempting to communicate.

"Troops on the ground in denied communications environments would have a way to securely communicate back to HQ, and DoD back office executives could rest assured that their logistics system is efficient, timely and safe from hackers," DARPA wrote.

Top secret image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.