Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research wing, is launching a new, classified effort to find enemies by the phone they use. It’s called Gandalf.
Announced yesterday by Darpa, the SECRET/NOFORN program’s goal is to employ “set of handheld devices” to track down a particular “signal emitter of interest,” using “radio frequency geolocation.”
The “specific goals and performance objectives… for the Gandalf system are classified,” Darpa says. But former Royal Navy officer Lew Page, who unearthed the project, explains what he believes the R&D agency has in mind:
It would appear that a group of undercover operatives… dispersed near a target (perhaps a specific cell or satellite phone) might carry portable gadgets, presumably networked. The netted devices would be able to pick out the phone, radio or whatever they were after and track it.
This sort of thing is already done by surveillance aircraft and/or drones; the new wrinkle is being able to do it using handheld devices. So Project Gandalf [is] presumably intended for situations where the spy planes and drones can’t be used – perhaps where the local government is unaware of the operation.
A classified meeting to discuss Gandalf is being held in northern Virginia at the end of October.