Sunday, March 8, 2009

US Airpower Summary, March 8, 2009: A-10s Support Ground Forces

The A-10A Thunderbolt II is an air-to-ground aircraft that provides key close-air-support capabilities to ground forces. On March 7, A-10s eliminated several enemy command positions and took out several enemy snipers during a battle in Afghanistan. (U.S. AIr Force photo.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, March 8, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations March 7, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs targeted enemy snipers during a battle between anti-Afghan forces and coalition soldiers in a valley outside Bagram. After marking the snipers' positions with smoke, the A-10s rolled in, using 30mm Avenger cannons to hit each enemy fighting position. After eliminating the sniper threat, the A-10s reengaged and strafed an enemy command position. Following the engagement, the aircraft flew a show of force over a base in order to deter enemy small-arms fire from outside the base perimeter.

In the vicinity of Tarin Kowt, Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets coordinated with coalition and Afghan National Army ground forces during an assault on a cluster of enemy compounds. The Super Hornets hit the target buildings with guided bomb unit-38s and a GBU-12, then executed a show of force to suppress enemy fire as friendly units moved onto their objective.

Near Asadabad, A-10s aided coalition ground forces during a nighttime firefight by providing illumination flares and marking enemy positions with smoke. Due to the close proximity of positions in the engagement, the A-10s withheld weapons strikes but provided aerial overwatch and spotted targets until the fight ended.

Multiple Navy F/A-18Fs provided firepower to a battle near Lashkar Gah. Using 20mm auto-cannon strafes and a GBU-38, the aircraft knocked out several hostile fighting positions and an enemy facility.

Navy F/A-18Es dropped GBU-38s to destroy anti-Afghan forces communications towers on a peak near Sangin. The enemy was using the towers to transmit coordinating instructions between their forces in the area.

Air Force, Navy and coalition aircraft executed shows of force to deter enemy activity during coalition and Afghan National Army operations in locations around Afghanistan, including Sheykhabad, Orgun, Tarin Kowt and Ghazni. The maneuvers deterred anti-Afghan forces' attacks and restricted enemy activities, while providing increased security and freedom of action for friendly operations and local residents.

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

In total, 77 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

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

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 28 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-one Air Force and Navy surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. In addition, three Air Force and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130s and C-17s 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 650 tons of cargo were delivered and nearly 3,600 passengers were transported.

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

On March 6, Air Force tanker crews flew 45 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.1 million pounds of fuel to 247 receiving aircraft.

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

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