Military Embedded Systems

Raytheon begins flight testing Phase 3 of DARPA's Persistent Close Air Support program


November 05, 2014

Amanda Harvey

Assistant Editor

Military Embedded Systems

TUCSON, Ariz. Raytheon has begun flight testing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program. Phase 3 of the PCAS program is an 18-month, $25.5 million effort that will conclude with live-fire demonstrations. The PCAS program is designed to speed close air support to soldiers on the battlefield.

"PCAS will help reduce close air support response times from as long as one hour to just six minutes," explains Tom Bussing, VP of Advanced Missile Systems for Raytheon. "By delivering critical information to decision makers more quickly, PCAS will save lives in the battlespace," he continues.

PCAS aims to enable combat aircrews, ground troops, and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) the ability to share real-time situational awareness (SA) and weapons systems data. With the help of PCAS, soldiers on the battlefield can quickly and accurately identify several targets simultaneously.

Raytheon is currently flight testing the PCAS, which will highlight the PCAS-air performance on an A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft and connectivity with a JTAC equipped with a PCAS-ground kit. Modular smart launcher electronics are the key element of PCAS-air, which can be easily ported from one platform to another.

Once the flight testing is complete, the PCAS system will be available for integration with other aircraft. Digital interoperability between platforms and JTACs will allow for increased SA, improved coordination, and decreased timelines for close air support.

Raytheon is the systems integrator for PCAS and is the leader of an industry team made up of 5-D Systems, BAE Systems, GE, and Rockwell Collins. For more information, visit


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