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May 18 airpower: JTACs direct aircraft against insurgents

5/19/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Coalition airpower supported coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in the following operations May 18, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, Navy F/A-18 Hornets attacked two targets near Asadabad by launching several guided bomb unit-38s and GBU-12s on insurgents and a former coalition fighting position. The joint terminal attack controller, or JTAC, aligned with the coalition ground forces in the area confirmed the targets were destroyed.

JTACs are highly trained U.S. Air Force and coalition personnel who advise ground commanders on appropriate air power support, relay the ground commander's intent to air power assets overhead and communicate with aircrews for precision engagement.

Near Asadabad, at the request of a coalition ground commander, JTACs directed an F/A-18 to drop a GBU-38 on insurgents near a tree line. The JTAC reported a direct hit. Another F/A-18 performed a show of force for a coalition convoy; the JTAC confirmed good effects. Meanwhile, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles searched for suspicious activity.

Also in Asadabad, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs performed armed escort for a coalition convoy that had been taking enemy fire and rocket-propelled grenade attacks.

Near Gerseshk, other A-10s fired multiple cannon rounds on an enemy position. The JTAC on the ground reported the enemy fire was suppressed as a result of the strafing runs. The Thunderbolt IIs also expended flares to stir up enemies in the area and provided a show of force for a nearby coalition convoy.

F/A-18s conducted separate shows of force, each launching flares to disrupt enemy activity. JTACs reported the missions as successful.

Around Kandahar, Royal Air Force GR-7 Harriers provided overwatch for coalition forces receiving small-arms fire.

To achieve the coalition ground commander's objectives, an F/A-18 conducted a show of force and expended flares around Sangin. The JTAC aligned with the ground forces confirmed good effects.

In total, 63 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Ten Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, four Navy and Royal Air Force aircraft provided tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, a B-1B Lancer dropped GBU-31s on a weapons cache near Baghdad to prevent anti-Iraqi personnel from using them. The resulting explosion was observed by Army AH-64 Apache helicopters, which confirmed a direct hit.

Also near Baghdad, Air Force F-16s provided armed overwatch for an explosive ordnance disposal team responding to an improvised explosive device and conducted armed reconnaissance for coalition forces erecting barriers. The fighters also provided armed overwatch for coalition ground forces receiving small-arms and RPG fire.

Near Salman Pak, Royal Air Force GR-4 Tornados performed shows of presence and a show of force, and expended flares over a camp that had recently been under RPG attack while helicopters took off out of the camp. The jets also provided overwatch for a coalition convoy that had been struck by an IED and had taken small arms fire.

In Samarra, to meet the coalition ground commander's objectives, a JTAC tasked an F-16 to provide a show of force for a coalition convoy taking small-arms fire. The JTAC reported the show of force as successful.

Around Baquba, F-16s tracked enemy forces engaged in small arms fire with coalition ground forces, while other Fighting Falcons monitored a raid by coalition forces and provided overwatch as they moved. Other F-16s provided armed overwatch of ground forces. Later in the day, A-10s responded to provide top cover for coalition forces hit by an IED.

In Basrah, a GR-4 provided armed overwatch for a coalition convoy, searched for suspicious activity near a main route and conducted a show of presence.

Around Al Musayyib, F-16s searched for enemy activity near a patrol under attack from small-arms fire.

In total, coalition aircraft flew 48 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions supported coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.

Ten Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq. Additionally, two RAF fighter aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift support, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. Approximately 162 airlift sorties were flown; more than 410 tons of cargo was delivered, and more than 4,085 passengers were transported.

Coalition C-130 crews from Australia, Canada, Iraq and Japan flew in support of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On May 17, U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force, French Air Force and the Republic of Singapore Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 51 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.7 million pounds of fuel to 262 receiving aircraft.

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