Friday, April 3, 2009

US Airpower Summary, April 3, 2009: Reapers Protect Coalition Forces

An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper from the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off March 13 from Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, for a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 3, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan during operations April 2, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, a Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet and an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper dropped guided bomb unit-12 and 38s on anti-Afghan compounds near Kajaki Dam. Several enemy gunmen, who had been firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at a coalition patrol from the structures, were killed in the strikes. The aircraft also provided overwatch to the convoy and provided tactical surveillance.

During a second engagement taking place in the area around Kajaki Dam, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs dropped GBU-38s and performed strafes, targeting enemy personnel with RPGs and automatic weapons. The A-10 destroyed an enemy lookout tower with one of its bombs as an F-15E hit a gunman hiding behind the berm of a small irrigation water pool. Coalition ground forces followed up the airstrikes with a ground attack.

Near Lashkar Gah, an Air Force F-15E executed a show of force, expending flares in order to help a coalition unit break away from enemy gunfire. When the enemy's shooting continued after the fly-over, the F-15E strafed the hostile forces with its guns. An F/A-18E also flew a show of force mission, suppressing enemy fire from another enemy position.

In Musa Qala, a Strike Eagle employed a GBU-38 to destroy an anti-Afghan forces bunker built inside a residential compound. Enemy personnel inside were shooting at coalition troops when the position was blown up.

An Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E fighters worked alongside Army AH-64 Apache gunships, attacking enemy forces in response to their firing on coalition soldiers in the Sheykhabad area. The B-1B destroyed hostile firing positions with its GBU-38s as the Apache hit an enemy mortar position and surrounding enemy strong points. Then the Apache pulled back, allowing the F-15Es to drop GBU-12s on more enemy positions. The aircraft continued to observe the area after the fight, tracking fleeing enemy personnel as coalition ground forces moved in.

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

In total, 82 close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Nineteen Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 30 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. In addition, three Air Force and coalition aircraft provided tactical surveillance and 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, 600 tons of cargo were delivered and about 3,600 passengers were transported. The airlift included approximately 47,400 tons of aerial resupply cargo airdropped over Afghanistan.

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

On April 1, Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 39 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.8 million pounds of fuel to 204 receiving aircraft.

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

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