DARPA is advancing the concept of using unmanned or optionally manned A-10 aircraft for persistent close air support (PCAS). The goal is to develop the autonomous flight controls and the interfaces so that joint terminal attack controllers are able to visualize, select, and employ weapons from these A-10s at the time of their choosing. This would result in “dramatic capability improvements” compared to current CAS, enabling “near-instantaneous airborne fire,” writes the agency in a July 8 announcement. DARPA intends to host a PCAS workshop on July 23 in Arlington, Va., to articulate the goals and objectives to the research community. The agency wants this work to lead to a live-fire demonstration of the concept. Back in February, DARPA projected that the demo would occur in the 2012-13 timeframe. (DARPA PCAS notice)
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.