With a few taps on a specially configured Android tablet, a joint terminal attack controller called in an airstrike from an A-10 gunship, the Pentagon's research arm announced.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as Darpa, for the first time tested the so-called Persistent Close Air Support, or PCAS, technology on an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from April through June near Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the agency announced this week in a press release.
The evaluations "showed that a warfighter serving as a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) on the ground could, in seamless coordination with a pilot, successfully command an airstrike with as few as three clicks on a tablet," the release states.
The program aims to develop easier, faster and more precise coordination between ground forces and air crews while conducting strikes against nearby targets, according to Darpa. The goal is to use smaller munitions to hit multiple or moving targets to minimize the incidence of friendly fire and collateral damage, according to the agency.
"We have shown that a flexible architecture and extensible technology toolsets are key to making groundbreaking improvements in air-ground coordination,” Dan Patt, DARPA program manager, said in the release.
The prototype system involves two components: PCAS-Ground software, called the Android Tactical Assault Kit; and PCAS-Air, an automated targeting system on board the aircraft to determine the timed release of laser- and GPS-guided munitions, according to the release.
Of the 50 sorties, ten involved live-fire weapons engagements -- all of which were successful and carried out within six minutes, it states. The technology has also been tested on a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, it states.
Check out the video to learn more about the Darpa program: