Seeking Unmanned CAS

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has issued a request for information to support its work on a Next Generation Close Air Support (NGCAS) system, and for this RFI, it said, the response “should only focus on [unmanned aircraft system] not manned systems.” DARPA wants information on proposed aircraft, which it says could be based on QF-4, QF-16, UA-10 [an unmanned A-10?], and similar fighter-based drones, and its command and control components “to better understand cost, availability, and mission capability.” It expects the UAS to employ small-smart munitions and the latest interface with Joint Terminal Attack Controllers on the ground. It would like the system to fly close to high subsonic speeds and provide several-g maneuver capability and have at least the range and endurance of existing armed remotely piloted aircraft. DARPA expects to begin flight test demonstrations in the 2012-13 timeframe. Responses are due Feb. 21. (RFI PDF)