During the height of combat operations in southern Afghanistan, U.S. Marine pilots began using iPads to cut down on the amount of maps they had to carry in flight. They came in particularly handy when launching strikes on Taliban targets, when time was tight and U.S. troops on the ground below were under fire.

That was four years ago. The Marine Corps has continued to refine the concept since as part of the Persistent Close-Air Support program run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It calls for U.S. troops to use electronics, including wearable tablet devices, to coordinate where missiles and bombs should be launched from aircraft at ground targets.

The latest advance: Marines used tablets to successfully launch a Griffin missile on March 27 from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft to protect a simulated downed U.S. pilot on the ground in Yuma, Ariz. The non-explosive test missile, guided by laser, DARPA officials said in a news release published late Monday.

Here’s video of the missile strike:

The missile was launched as part of Operation Talon Reach, an exercise in which Marines in the service’s Infantry Officer Course train with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, which develops aviation weapons and tactics at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

“I am very pleased with the successful PCAS demonstration that we had during TALON REACH,” said Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the Marine Corps’ top officer for aviation. “I have emphasized to my team that we will network every one of our aircraft.”

The new close-air support program has two components, military officials say. PCAS-Air is in the hands of air crews, and includes a tablet with access to military intelligence and communications gear that communicates directly with ground troops. PCAS-Ground includes mapping software on a tablet and enables ground troops to select targets for the pilots. The tablets use software the Marines called KILSWITCH, short for Kinetic Integrated Low-cost Software Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld.

During another portion of the exercise, Marines used KILSWITCH tablets in a simulated battle at night. The Marines had little awareness of their surroundings, but they were able to launch a small unmanned aircraft that provided overhead surveillance and sent information about the location of everyone on the ground to the Marines with tablets.