Monday, March 2, 2009

US Airpower Summary, March 2, 2009: MQ-9 Reaper Targets Enemy With Missiles

A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper taxis down a runway in Afghanistan. The Reaper is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy those targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, March 2, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations Mar. 1, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs responded to a ground engagement between anti-Afghan forces and coalition troops, employing 500-pound general purpose bombs and cannon strafes to attack enemy positions. The jets also used marking rounds to clearly identify the positions and confirm target identity with coalition ground observers before releasing their weapons.

Near Orgun, A-10s struck an enemy firing site with 500-pound general purpose bombs, halting an enemy mortar attack against a coalition forward base. An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft targeted additional enemy personnel in the area using a Hellfire missile strike. Enemy indirect fire teams had threatened not just the base but also the surrounding settlement with their scattered mortar fire until they were stopped by the strikes.

An Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E Strike Eagle delivered a series of guided bomb unit-31 and -38 engagements to take out enemy fighting positions hidden inside a residential compound in a local settlement. The aircraft targeted a sniper hide, a bunker and a fighting position concealed in a courtyard, using precision tactics to avoid damaging nearby civilian structures.

In the Balocan area, a coalition aircraft employed a show of force to disperse enemy forces attacking a coalition convoy. The aircraft performed the maneuver in order to avoid endangering civilians. However, anti-Afghan forces later resumed hostilities without regard to the presence of non-combatants. Coordinating with ground forces, an MQ-9 drone targeted a group of enemy gunmen in a field with a Hellfire missile as friendly troops moved in and dislodged the remaining enemy from the area.

A coalition aircraft performed shows of force near Tarin Kowt over an enemy position in order to suppress hostile actions as a coalition convoy transited the area. The aircraft's presence helped increase the local security presence and allowed the convoy to carry out its reconstruction supply mission without interference.

In the vicinity of Soltani, an F-15E flew a show of force as Afghan National Army personnel detained a group who were suspected of planting improvised explosive devices. The aircraft remained on station in case anti-Afghan forces attempted to interfere with the Afghan government operation, part of recent efforts to improve security for their residents.

An A-10 and an F-15E conducted shows of force to deter enemy action during rebuilding efforts in the Ghazni and Gardez regions respectively. Coalition convoys successfully delivered humanitarian aid, medical care and reconstruction materials to these areas.

On-scene joint terminal attack controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of each mission.

In total, 59 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

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

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 24 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.

Nineteen Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. In addition, three Air Force and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

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 150 airlift sorties were flown, more than 525 tons of cargo was delivered and about 4,275 passengers were transported.

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

On Feb. 28, Air Force tanker crews flew 40 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.5 million pounds of fuel to 192 receiving aircraft.

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

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