MIMIC Program

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This page was created as a place to host content and commentary on Darpa's MIMIC program which ran from 1987 to 1995. Some of the downloadable content below was submitted by Nabil, thanks!

Texas Instruments/Raytheon Joint Venture coffee mug

Below is a scan of a paper copy of a viewgraph (a foil, as they were known), dating back to the proposal days of the MMIC Phase I program.  Someone we know with a sick sense of humor sat through that presentation and circled all the words that could be associated with sexual frustration.  Some of them require a stretch of the imagination, but there seems to be a kernal of truth to the idea that the presentor had something else on his mind.... members... thrust... stimulate... insertion... penetration...  come on, man!

Mentioning the Darpa MIMIC program brings tears to some old engineers’ eyes.  In some cases, the tears would be because of all of the money that was wasted on non-starters like AlSiC housings, non-contact RF probing and the "MIMIC Hardware Description Language." But without this huge government program, smart phones could have been delayed by ten years. The first MIMIC awards went to 26 companies on four teams, totaling $225M. In all, $570M was spent. In 2020 dollars that would exceed $1B.

The acronym  "MIMIC" stood for Microwave/Millimeter-Wave Monolithic Integrated Circuits.  The Darpa program manager was Dr. Eliot Cohen.  In 2012 Eliot Cohen wrote an article on the MIMIC Program for IEEE MTT-S Microwave Magazine which is a good resource if you want to learn about this historic program. Here are the details:

Eliot Cohen, "The MIMIC Program - A Retrospective", Microwave Magazine, June 2012, pp. 77-88.

That article is available if you subscribe to IEEE Explore, or if you were a paid member of MTT-S in 2012 you might have saved a paper copy. Here at Microwaves101, we'll give you the free version of what happened, hopefully with some class participation. Please email us comments on this program, particularly if you worked on it; we'll post your inputs on this page.

The MIMIC program was introduced at the 1986 IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium, which was held in Baltimore.  Those of us that went there, another memory was that the books of papers that were handed out had the Pride of Baltimore on their covers.  If you walked down to the harbor to see this full-sized clipper-ship replica, you would have seen an empty slip.  The Pride of Baltimore sank on May 16, 1986 and four people died. Of course, this has literally nothing to do with the MIMIC program but it was the other Big News at IMS that year.

Phase 0

Sixteen teams involving 48 companies, or virtually the entire U.S. microwave community!

MIMIC Phase 1 Teams

There were four teams in Phase 1.

Raytheon and Texas Instruments

Aerojet, Airtron, Compact Software, Consilium, General Dynamics, Magnavox, Norden, and Teledyne

TRW Team

General Dynamics, Hittite, and Honeywell

General Electric/Hughes Team

AT&T, Cascade Microtech, EEsof, E-Systems, Harris Microwave, Hercules, and M/A COM

ITT/Martin Marietta team

Alpha, Harris Government Systems, Pacific Monolithics and Watkins-Johnson

MIMIC Phase 2 Teams

Phase 2 was where the majority of the money was spent.  Below are the competing teams.  Actually, after Phase 1 there was no real competing, just everyone trying to make the metrics they signed up for.

Hughes Team:

Alliant Techsystems/Cascade Microtech/EESof/ITT/Litton/M/A-COM/Martin Marrietta/Rockwell

Raytheon/Texas Instruments Team:

Aerojet/Airtron/Consilium/General Dynamics/Hittite/Lockheed Sanders/Teledyne


One of the MIMIC Phase II demonstrators was a Ka-band seeker test bed.  It had Ka-band LNAs, mixers, LO amplifiers, IF amplifiers all of which were developed under the MIMIC program by Raytheon, in Andover and Tewksbury MA.  Below is a photo of this demo, there are four Ka-band quadrant modules around the perimeter and a pair of C-band(?)  modules in the center.  There is probably a mono-pulse network in the closest C-band module; it appears that phase matched semi-rigid cables are connecting it to the quadrant. None of the modules are hermetic, it is likely that they had to be reworked several times in order to make a working prototype.


Ka band seeker demo.

The Ka-band seeker test bed originally cost perhaps $200,000,000.  It is looking for a permanent home, one recurring problem with big companies is that they tend to do periodic house cleaning and throw away tons of historic artifacts.  Perhaps this unit will find its way to the National Electronics Museum in Linthecum Maryland, which was once Westinghouse's company museum.  An ironic place for it considering how Raytheon and Westinghouse (now Northrop Grumman) have squabbled over the years.... if you google the two company names and "lawsuit" you will find more than 140,000 hits.

TRW Team:

Alliant Techsystems/Comsat/Hercules/Northrop/Westinghouse

It is interesting that some of the teammates merged into mega-companies years later, such as Westinghouse/TRW/Northrop (now Northrop Grumman) and Raytheon/TI (now Raytheon). Many of the companies are now just dead name plates that we try to keep track of on our where-are-they-now page.


 Below are some public domain documents you can download to learn more about the MIMIC program.  You can find these and many more by searching on the keyword "mimic" on the defense information technical center web site. This is a great site to surf if you are bored at a meeting!

Download MIMIC BRIEFS: Summaries of Phase 3 Technology Support Programs, January 1993




More to come!

Author : Unknown Editor