The future of MV-22B Osprey technology may be fast arriving.
During the demonstration, a joint terminal attack controller used the mapping software on his tablet to identify a target near an unmanned truck and then communicate its position to a PCAS module inside the Osprey, DARPA officials explained in a recent news release. Troops in the air and on the ground then confirmed the shot before the Osprey fired.
The munition was a nonexplosive version of the tube-launched AGM-176 Griffin missile. It traveled about 4.5 miles.
"The length of time from initiation by the JTAC to missile impact on target was just over four minutes — even better than PCAS' goal of six minutes, and more than seven times faster than the half hour or more it can take using current methods that rely on voice directions and paper maps," DARPA's news release states.
On March 27, Marines observed a demonstration of the DARPA's persistent close air support system, according to a news release from the agency. The PCAS demonstration had been incorporated into Talon Reach, a multi-annual infantry and aviation exercise which took place in the southwestern United States.
The system used tablets and mapping technology to help officials on the ground and in the air closely coordinate in real time in order to achieve heightened accuracy in planning and executing missions.
During the demonstration, according to the release, a joint terminal attack controller from the Marines' infantry officers course used a tablet to identify a target position near an unmanned truck and communicate the position to a PCAS module inside an Osprey, allowing air and ground teams to confirm the shot and execute the order.
The Osprey then fired a non-explosive version of a tube-launched precision-guided AGM-176 Griffin missile at a distance of 4.5 miles in order to support another Osprey pilot whose aircraft had gone down in the scenario.
"The length of time from initiation by the JTAC to missile impact on target was just over four minutes—even better than PCAS' goal of six minutes, and more than seven times faster than the half hour or more it can take using current methods that rely on voice directions and paper maps," DARPA officials said in the release.
During the discussion at Sea Air Space, Davis said use of tablets to link Marines on the ground with Marines inside the aircraft was becoming familiar and even expected among troops who trained with versions of the technology.
A resource-constrained environment, Davis said, had yielded a benefit to the Marine Corps by forcing leaders to find new and creative ways to do more with the gear available to them.
"Bottom line, constrained environment leads to better thinking," he said.
He called the PCAS test a positive byproduct of the service's otherwise challenging fiscal constraints. When money is tight, leaders are forced to find new and creative ways to do more with the gear available to them, Davis said, adding it "leads to better thinking."
"So now we'll have V-22s that can fly ...basically extend the range and breadth of those assault support assets, flying across the battle space at 280 knots," he said.