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DARPA, Marines Demo Close Air Support Tech; Lt. Gen. Jon Davis Comments

Jon Davis
Jon Davis

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Marine Corps have partnered to demonstrate a technology designed to coordinate aircraft with ground troops when they come under fire during a tactical operation.

DARPA said Monday it tested a full Persistent Close Air Support system for the first time with an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at USMC’s Talon Reach exercise last month.

During the military exercise, a joint terminal attack controller used a PCAS-Ground tablet to communicate the position of a target to a PCAS-Air module fitted into the Osprey.

The system worked to allow the aircraft’s weapon systems officer and the JTAC on ground to share information in order to hit their target, according to DARPA.

“Every aircraft a sensor, every aircraft a connector, every aircraft an [electronic warfare] node, and every aircraft a shooter are our goals,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation at USMC.

“DARPA’s PCAS effort is helping us to achieve these goals,” Davis added.

PCAS-Air is comprised of ISR, weapons management and communications systems integrated into a Smart Launcher Electronics module, while PCAS-Ground is designed with mapping and situational awareness tools that are housed in an Android tablet.

DARPA said it aims to transition the system to unmanned platforms and will collaborate with the U.S. Air Force to demonstrate the technology on A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

The agency’s PCAS industry partners include Bell Helicopter, Raytheon and Rockwell Collins.

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