October 18, 2015:
The U.S. Air Force has successfully tested a new tool for air controllers on the ground and the bomber pilots they work with; PCAS (Persistent Close Air Support). This is software that runs on an Android tablet used by the air controller. The tablet is linked with communications gear that can share data instantly with aircraft overhead. The air controller can tap the tablet a few times to designate target location, type of weapon to be used and when the strike is to occur. This an air controller can quickly designate and hit multiple ground targets with GPS or laser guided bombs and missiles. If the target is moving the controller can indicate that and call for a weapon that can follow and hit a moving target. The air controller software is but one of many PCAS systems in development.
PCAS is using several technologies that have been developed since the 1990s, including high speed digital communications and the use of binoculars with built in GPS and laser range finders to allow controllers to quickly obtain the GPS location of a target and transmit that data to the aircraft overhead. Speaking the coordinates to the pilot via radio is prone to error, either in the radio transmission or as the pilot types the coordinates into his fire control system. Bit by bit a lot of this data has been automated to the point where you can use PCAS. The aircraft used for the recent test was an A-10C. This is the latest A-10 version and is equipped to handle GPS and laser guided weapons and well as digital communications with other aircraft or people on the ground.
The army and air force have also been developing software for cell phones and tablets since 2009. Before that the army began developing software for iPods and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) in 2002, which evolved into the larger iOS and Android efforts for cell phones and tablets. So the PCAS tablet software is an evolutionary not a revolutionary development for air force ground controllers and pilots alike.