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Military

JSTARS meets AWACS

by Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon
18th Wing Public Affairs

8/6/2008 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFPN) -- The 16th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., has deployed to Kadena Air Base for 30 days to train with the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron and participate in an operational readiness exercise on the Korean Peninsula.

The unit is flying its E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft alongside the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, operated by the 961st AACS here.

"We have a great opportunity to share tactics and training opportunities with the 961st AACS as we fly together over the Republic of Korea during the ORE," said Lt. Col. Douglas Kugler, 16th EACCS detachment commander.

The E-8C is a command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset that provides ground surveillance data to ground and air commanders in a theater of operations.

"The Joint STARS aircraft contributes in a lot of ways, from developing targets of opportunity for attack operations to supporting personnel recovery operations," said Colonel Kugler. "We use a crew normally consisting of 21 Air Force and Army personnel to detect, track, report and target enemy ground movement while employing various radar modes, computer subsystems and an extensive communications suite."

While training in this exercise, the JSTARS aircrew will train their eyes on the ground situation as fighter aircraft launch sorties. The E-8C crew will pass critical ground data to the E-3 Sentry crew and other units like common ground stations from the Army's 2nd Infantry Division and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. In turn, the AWACS will share the air picture, enhancing situational awareness for JSTARS crews.

AWACS and JSTARS crews coordinate with friendly aircraft to expedite identification of targets of opportunity. Training opportunities available during this visit offer both units a chance to improve critical coordination skills and reduce the amount of time it takes to coordinate air-to-ground targets.

"When you start putting these two pictures together, you get a lot of situational awareness of enemy activity for faster operational and tactical level decisions," said Colonel Kugler.

Senior Master Sgt. James Reid, 16th EACCS senior director technician, said the information taken from both platforms enables commanders on the ground to make real-time decisions based on real-time data.

The crew aboard JSTARS consists of members from the active-duty Air Force, the Air National Guard as well as the U.S. Army. The 116th Air Control Wing at Robins AFB is the sole unit operating JSTARS with a total of 17 operational aircraft providing worldwide support to combatant commanders.

"Though we [both units] have unique missions, it's the synergistic effect of combining the assets that makes the impact in the battle space," said Sergeant Reid.



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