Sunday, February 22, 2009

US Airpower Summary, Feb. 22, 2009: JTACS Ensure Mission Success

In this file photo, Staff Sgt. Marshall Bonham, a joint terminal attack controller, talks to aircraft pilots via radio transmission. The JTAC is the communications link between Air Force pilots and Army units on the ground. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Feb. 22, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in the following operations Feb. 21, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet conducted a strafing pass against enemy forces dug in behind a line of trees along a road near Lashkar Gah. The Super Hornet had been flying overwatch for a coalition convoy when enemy gunfire erupted from the roadside. While the jet's cannons quickly ended the direct threat to the convoy, the aircraft followed up with a show of force and expended flares to deter a possible enemy counterattack.

Over Shurakian, an Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped a guided bomb unit-31 to destroy a cave being used as a bunker by anti-Afghan personnel. The strike, which took place during a firefight between coalition troops and enemy shooters in the cave, collapsed the tunnel and silenced the enemy position.

Super Hornets provided several shows of force and expended flares during an enemy attack against coalition personnel patrolling near Sangin. The aircraft withheld weapons fire to prevent endangering civilians in the area but enemy forces were successfully dispersed.

Near Qalat, an F/A-18F flying overwatch for Afghan National Army soldiers executed a show of force when the unit it was covering began taking fire. The aircraft expended flares as it passed over the enemy's position, leading to an enemy withdrawal immediately afterward.

Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs flew a show of force near a coalition forward base in the vicinity of Kandahar. The maneuver telegraphed the coalition's protective presence to the public and served as a deterrent to any enemy forces in the area.

Additional A-10s performed a show of force near Ghazni as a dismounted coalition unit performed security and reconstruction operations there. The mission was carried out without interference after the aircraft established a visible presence.

A coalition aircraft flew a show of force as another patrol returned to its vehicles outside a village near Bagram. The aircraft also provided aerial reconnaissance for the coalition ground force commander, providing "eyes in the sky" as the unit completed its objective.

Over a civilian settlement near Lashkar Gah, a Navy F/A-18C Hornet and an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle conducted shows of force as deterrents to enemy forces. Enemy gunmen were spotted trying to gain firing positions against coalition convoys travelling through, but were forced to take cover and withdraw. The aircraft tracked the gunmen's movements through the town, but did not engage because enemy personnel stayed close by local civilians, evidently using them as a shield.

Joint terminal attack controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 74 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Fifteen Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, four Navy and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 10 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized with coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt hostile activities.

Twenty-four Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. Additionally, three Air Force and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft provided intra-theater heavy airlift, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

Approximately 100 airlift sorties were flown; more than 425 tons of cargo was delivered; and about 2,350 passengers were transported. This included approximately 60,000 pounds of troop resupply that was air-dropped in Afghanistan.

Coalition C-130 crews flew as part of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On February 20, U.S. Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 40 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.3 million pounds of fuel to 142 receiving aircraft.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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