[Avionics Today 11-06-2014] Raytheon has begun the flight-testing phase of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program. The 18-month, $25.5 million program is designed to improve the speed of close air support to soldiers on the battlefield, and enable combat aircrews, ground troops and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) to share real-time situational awareness and weapons systems data quickly as well as provide the ability to identify multiple targets simultaneously, according to Raytheon.
Raytheon indicates current flight testing will highlight PCAS-air performance on an A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft and connectivity with the JTAC equipped with a PCAS ground kit. According to the aerospace and defense manufacturer, the "key element of PCAS-air is modular smart launcher electronics, which can easily be ported from one platform to another."
"PCAS will help reduce close air support response times from as long as one hour to just six minutes," said Tom Bussing, Raytheon vice president of advanced missile systems.
Raytheon is the systems integrators for PCAS and is leading an industry team comprised of Rockwell Collins, GE, BAE Systems and 5-D systems. Upon the completion of the flight testing phase, the PCAS system will become available for integration with other aircraft and participation in other demonstrations, according to Raytheon.