US: The popular image of modern warfare is the digital battlefield where cyber soldiers have Terminator-like video displays and can call in an airstrike with the shine of a laser beam. DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) programme aims to make this scenario real by improving air-to-ground fire coordination.
Pilots and dismounted ground agents must ensure they hit only the intended target using just voice directions and, if they’re lucky, a common paper map. It can often take up to an hour to confer, get in position and strike—time in which targets can attack first or move out of reach. To help address these challenges, DARPA recently awarded a contract for Phase II of its Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program to the Raytheon Company of Waltham, Mass.
PCAS aims to enable ground forces and combat aircrews to jointly select and employ precision-guided weapons from a diverse set of airborne platforms. The programme seeks to leverage advances in computing and communications technologies to fundamentally increase CAS effectiveness, as well as improve the speed and survivability of ground forces engaged with enemy forces.