Sunday, March 15, 2009

US Airpower Summary, March 15, 2009: B-1Bs Support Ground Troops

A B-1B Lancer receives fuel from a KC-10 Extender over Afghanistan. B-1Bs fly close-air-support missions for both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, March 15, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations March 14, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs used 30 mm Avenger cannon strafes and guided bomb unit-38s to target a concentrated force of anti-Afghan fighters after they initiated an attack on a coalition patrol near Musa Qala. The A-10s then stayed on station providing strafes and bomb drops as the enemy attempted to press their offensive. One A-10's precision GBU-38 strike hit enemy forces just a few hundred meters from the coalition position. Multiple enemy rocket-propelled grenade, rifle and machine gun teams were killed in the engagement. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornets arrived at the end of the fight to provide air cover as a coalition medical helicopter arrived to retrieve casualties.

Another battle took place near a coalition forward base in Bagram, with several flights of Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and B-1B Lancers arriving to assist ground forces. During the fight, the aircraft employed shows of force, numerous strafing attacks, and a number of both guided and general-purpose munitions to hit anti-Afghan personnel massed in the open and in fighting positions along the mountainsides. A-10s also marked ground targets with smoke in order to coordinate strikes and help orient friendly air and ground forces. The enemy suffered severe losses during their unsuccessful attack.

Near Nangalam, a group of enemy gunmen readying for an attack on a coalition unit was detected by an Army unmanned aerial vehicle. The gunmen were holding position, apparently waiting for nearby F-15Es and A-10 fighters flying overwatch to leave. When the aircraft pulled back to a hold position out of visual range, the gunmen began firing and attempted an assault. The aircraft returned, dropping GBU-38s on the enemy positions, and quickly ended the fight.

F/A-18Fs flew shows of force and expended flares over Ghazni, deterring a group of enemy personnel taking shots at a coalition convoy. The enemy group withdrew after the aircraft arrived, letting the convoy pass without further escalation.

Near Monari, an F/A-18F executed a show of force when a coalition convoy spotted armed enemy personnel posing an immediate threat. Anti-Afghan forces fled the area upon the arrival of aircraft.

F-15Es performed shows of force to prevent enemy attack in Sheykhabad during coalition operations there. Friendly ground forces moved through the area and continued on their missions without interference from the enemy.

A Royal Air Force GR-9 Harrier performed route clearance, searching for IEDs over supply routes and highways in Helmand province. The aircraft also performed a show of force in the vicinity of Lashkar Gah to deter enemy action.

In the Moqor area, a coalition aircraft conducted an aerial search for enemy equipment and weapons. The aircraft provided a show of force for a coalition forward base to deter enemy activity.

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

In total, 75 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route controls.

Nineteen Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. In addition, four coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew two 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.

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

Approximately 110 airlift sorties were flown, more than 460 tons of cargo was delivered and about 2,900 passengers were transported. This included approximately 138,000 pounds of troop resupply that was airdropped in Afghanistan.

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

On March 13, Air Force tanker crews flew 39 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.8 million pounds of fuel to 196 receiving aircraft.

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

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