Android Terminal Assault Kit: US Forces Could Use App to Call in Airstrikes

October 16, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

The Android Terminal Assault Kit, or ATAK, is an Android app in development that could be used by U.S. forces to call in airstrikes or control drones.

Draper Laboratory of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is working on the project, says the app will allow troops to “more easily call in airstrikes — and reduce friendly and civilian casualties while doing so.”

“Troops can also use ATAK (Android Terminal Assault Kit), for other purposes, including battlespace awareness, navigation, de-conflicting airspace, and controlling fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles,” reads a press release from the firm.

Draper’s Laura Major, who is overseeing the project, said the program will be quicker and better suited for battle.

“It’s one thing for a user behind a desk in a climate-controlled office to toggle back and forth between 10 windows, deal with system crashes, and wait 60 seconds for booting up,” Major said, according to the release. “It’s another thing to deal with those issues while someone is shooting at you or if you’re jumping out of a plane. That’s where ATAK comes in.”

Major said that troops used to bring laptops to the field but some didn’t use them because they are too bulky or emit too much light at night.

Aircraft that have taken part in live-fire exercises using ATAK include A10s and F-16s. The ATAK system requires approximately 50 percent fewer clicks than laptop-based systems.