“ISIS” is getting more and more problematic. As news organizations continue to argue over what to call the group of Islamic terrorists wreaking murderous havoc in Iraq and Syria, Politico noted on Friday that the name ISIS is already taken -- by none other than the U.S. government.

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a little-known program called Integrated Sensor is Structure, managed by the United States Air Force, which uses the acronym ISIS. According to the DARPA website, the program was launched to research the development of a stratospheric surveillance airship of “unprecedented proportions.”

“ISIS is designed to provide persistent wide-area surveillance, tracking, and engagement for hundreds of time-critical air and ground targets in deployed overseas urban and rural environments, without requiring in-theater support facilities or personnel,” the website says.

The program has been around since 2009.

Since airstrikes against Islamic terrorists began in Iraq earlier this summer, journalists and media outlets have struggled with what to call ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), also known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), also known as the Islamic State (how the group refers to itself).

Isis is the name of an Egyptian goddess, as well as the first name of a Miami woman, Isis Martinez, who launched a social media campaign trying to get the media to stop using the term. A line of sexy lingerie is also called Isis. The U.K.-based retailer apologized for the unfortunate timing of the product launch and carefully noted that she "does not condone any act of terrorism or violence." 

In a speech outlining his military strategy this week, President Obama clearly preferred the term ISIL to Islamic State, saying that the group did not represent Islam and was not recognized by any world government.

A DARPA spokesperson told Politico that the U.S. government’s program is scheduled to be closed in March.

ISIS An image from DARPA's ISIS project depicting a stratospheric airship. Photo: DARPA.mil

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