This Means War: Raytheon Android Tactical System (RATS)


If you think that Android is strictly a mobile phone OS you’ve been fooled. Being open, it can be used anywhere. We’ve seen it on netbooks, MIDs, desk phones, home entertainment centers, laptops, in cars and other interesting places. Now defense contractor Raytheon is putting Android in the battlefield with a life saving mission they call Raytheon Android Tactical System, or RATS for short.


RATS is essentially an Android application that integrates a map with a buddy list – nothing mind blowing in and of itself. But when you put into perspective what the application can/will actually DO, you “see the light”. Here is how Elizabeth Woyke from explains the possibilities:

Every part of RATS is tailored for use on a battlefield. A soldier could make an unmanned plane a “buddy,” for instance, and track its progress on a map using his phone. He could then access streaming video from the plane, giving him a bird’s eye view of the area. Soldiers could also use the buddy list to trace the locations of other members of their squad.

My first concern was security – having this type of sensitive information certainly poses some type of security threat, doesn’t it? There is encryption within the app to ensure outsiders can’t intercept images, video, information, coordinates or any important details. But when you think about it, regardless of HOW this information is being accessed there is ALWAYS a potential or possibility of a breach, Android or not. Obviously Raytheon felt they could utilize Android efficiently to make a both effective and secure solution. This isn’t exactly a bunch of kids playing Wi-Fi Army.

This isn’t some pipe dream either. RATS has been in development for 2 years, since Android’s existence, and it will be ready for deployment in the next couple months. Further, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security experts have expressed an interest at a senior level. There is no telling in what capacity they would actually USE Raytheon’s Android Tactical System but its the potential and possibilities that have them interested:

Eventually, RATS devices could double as biometric scanners. A small device could snap on top of the phone’s camera and capture fingerprints, says Bigham. The photos could then be sent to an off-site facility for processing.

Another thing that iDoesn’t – fight terrorism in the name of freedom. ANDROID TO THE RESCUE!

[Via, thanks Dave!]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. has anybody here read the book World War Z?
    i highly recommend you do. i’m not necessarily a zombie enthusiast, but this book was excellent.
    when you get to the chapter: battle of yonkers, it basically describes a fictional RATS.

  2. This is freakin cool. Imagine the possibilities.

  3. Maybe its me….but why does everyone act like Android is the first OS they’ve ever seen. I mean I’m glad its finding so many different uses in many places. But I just wonder why all of these ideas spring up around Android like they couldn’t have been done before. Its interesting to me.

  4. Actually this is a case where iDid. The iPhone has been used by the US Gov to operate sniper rifles remotely. I think there have been a couple other iPhone apps too but I don’t recall them at present.

  5. I don’t think anyone running this app in the field needs to worry about the encryption of the app itself. The devices it will run on will be plenty encrypted.

  6. Soldiers can blast some bad guys while updating their Facebook status.

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