Wed, Mar 24, 2004
Pilots Prepare for Action Overseas
Unconventional warfare can be defined as the absence of a
clearly defined enemy and lacking classic lines of battle.
Combining this definition with the rugged terrain of Afghanistan
and Iraq, it is easy to see why commanders throughout the combat
air forces are clamoring for forward air control (airborne)-capable
pilots. These pilots are known as FAC-As.
The airborne controller supports a ground commander by solving
tactical problems using airpower. The FAC-A acts as the quarterback
of a multifaceted team, which strives to destroy or neutralize any
target as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once a target has
been identified, the FAC-A coordinates with supporting fighter or
bomber aircraft to get "eyes on that target." The airborne
controller then directs an attack against that target using the
best aircraft and weapon pairing.
The 310th Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base (AZ) runs the
only schoolhouse for F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots training to become
FAC-As. Each class lasts five weeks and includes a 12-ride program
that tests technical knowledge and piloting skills. The school
graduates 13 classes of pilots annually.
"Because of the FAC-As' mission efficiency, I'm not surprised by
the recent increase in FAC-A emphasis here at Luke and Air
Force-wide," said Maj. Monty Hostetler, a FAC-A instructor pilot
with the 310th FS. "We are both close-air support and forward air
control. We're airborne artillery with precision employment
"We have the battlefield perspective to see what's on the other
side of the mountain, and effectively orchestrate putting bombs on
the target quickly and precisely, while protecting friendly
forces," he said.
ANN thanks the Air Education and Training Command News Service
for this report.
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