GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., 22 Sept. 2013. Systems designers at the Raytheon Co. Missile Systems segment in Tucson, Ariz., needed a stores management system for a program that aims at increasing the tempo at which military tactical air controllers can call in air strikes from piloted and autonomous attack aircraft to support U.S. and allied ground troops.
They found their solution from GE Aviation in Grand Rapids, Mich. Raytheon has awarded GE Aviation a second phase contract for the Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program to provide the stores management system for the PCAS-Air component.
PCAS-Air would be a platform-agnostic, plug-and-play system that would consist of an internal navigation system, stores and engagement management systems, and high-speed data transfer systems, GE officials say.
PCAS is a research program–an initiative of the U.S. Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., to develop technology that will help joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) call in close air support strikes far more quickly and frequently than they can today. Raytheon is one of several PCAS contractors.
PCAS will demonstrate new close air support capability by putting firepower at the fingertips of ground troops in contact with the enemy. Close air support manned and unmanned aircraft may be able to speed their services to ground troops faster than ever before with technology from the PCAS research program.
The PCAS program will develop digitally connected equipment to help the JTAC rapidly choose and cue close air support aircraft in the vicinity, and enable the strike aircraft to respond autonomously to the JTAC request for weapons delivery. The goal is to reduce the time between requesting an air strike and putting bombs, missiles, or other weapons on target.
The program seeks to develop standard equipment to help the JTAC work together with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide close air support. JTAC equipment will work together with the UAV to increase information exchange to reduce time-to-target, visualize available weapons and their effects, and pass-off digital targeting information for weapons delivery.
The JTAC equipment must be small enough so that a controller on foot can carry the system comfortably. The program will culminate in a live-fire demonstration.
Raytheon's contract to GE Aviation includes the engineering and data development of GE's Stores and Payload Controller (SPC), a lightweight stores management system designed for UAVs. In addition, GE has been contracted to host and integrate a high-value software application onto GE's open system Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA), company officials say.
"The stores and payload controller has a standards-based architecture for a variety of current and future stores, making it a comprehensive system for multiple platforms," says Todd Caccamo, business director for avionics systems at GE Aviation. "This potentially provides the user with a common product that streamlines cost and can be used on manned or unmanned aircraft in the air, on land, or at sea."
The second phase of the Persistent Close Air Support program will support the integration and test of GE's SPC solution onto the PCAS platform, resulting in a planned series of flight tests and live-fire demonstrations at the end of phase three, GE officials say.
GE also plans to demonstrate porting legacy third-party software applications into a military open IMA computing system. For more information contact GE Aviation online at www.geaviation.com.