The Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program will allow the joint tactical air controller the ability to rapidly engage multiple, moving and simultaneous targets within his area of responsibility. PCAS’s ability to digitally task a close air support (CAS) platform to attack multiple/ simultaneous targets would clearly improve the operations of U.S. ground forces and increase speed of attack. PCAS will significantly increase CAS capabilities by developing a system that provides continuous CAS availability and lethality to the supported ground commander. PCAS will be a ‘system-of-systems’ approach demonstrating the ability to digitally task a CAS platform from the ground. The system will be designed to reduce collateral damage and potential fratricide to friendly forces. Enabling technologies are: manned/unmanned airborne platforms, next generation graphical user interfaces, data links, digital guidance and control, and advanced targeting and visualization tools.
DARPA, Raytheon, Aurora, and Northrop Grumman are hoping to demonstrate an unmanned twin engine A-10 Warthog as part of the PCAS program. The goal of the PCAS program aims to give the joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) on the ground a point, click, and kill technology inevitably cutting out the middle man. DARPA thinks its On-Demand airstrike capability will help eliminate the current painstakingly slow process of permissions and clearances that can bring air support to a crawl. DARPA hopes to have the close air support (CAS) aircraft deliver multiple weapons within six minutes of a JTAC request. If DARPA is successful, the PCAS program and the unmanned A-10, could revolutionize the battlefield giving troops on the ground On-Demand technology and control of a new class of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV’s). Darpa plans a live-fire demonstration of PCAS at the end of Fiscal 2014.
Recent News: Aurora Selected by Raytheon for DARPA PCAS Program – February 16th, 2012