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Wolf Pack Defenders go virtual to train

by Senior Airman Jessica Hines
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/7/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- One might assume the term "gunship" would most likely be overheard on a documentary for 20th century naval engineering.

It is, however, what Airmen from the 8th Security Forces Squadron and members from the Republic of Korea Army heard during "call for fire" training last week, which included training with a different kind of gunship.

The AC-130H Spectre gunship adapts a typical C-130 transport aircraft into an acute firepower capability, which responds to close-combat ground forces. Tracing its roots to the Vietnam War, the aircraft is primarily used by the U.S. Air Force, operated by Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

It was the precision of this direct fire aircraft, however that students of the AC-130 call for fire mobile training were gathered for at Kunsan Air Base.

The simulation recreates a virtual setup of Kunsan Air Base, places the trainee at a specific location and asks them to locate a hostile threat. Once that is done, the defender or trainee calls in support from the "gunship."

While the trainees only need to remember a few short sentences to radio in the call, attention to detail is everything when calling in fire support to a specific location.

Sitting at another computer in a separate room, Michael Raymond, AC-130 call for fire trainer, acts as the simulated gunship operator waiting for calls.

"I can see everything they do on this computer," said Raymond, pointing to the virtual setup of Kunsan AB, which shows exactly what the trainee is looking at.

"On this one I actually drop the simulated bombs on the targets they're calling in, but I can also change up the situation and really test the individual to see how they react," Raymond added.

Instructors from AFSOC brought a mobile training console similar to a modern gaming unit. Most students easily picked up how to use it, with one even comparing it to an X-Box controller.

The familiar arrangement, however, is just a small part of the call for fire training, which simulates what a service member may be called to do in a wartime situation.

"It's a good setup," said 1st Lt. Joshua Hight, 8th SFS alpha flight commander.

"Obviously it would be more stressful in the field, but this helps you understand the concept of what you need to accomplish very well," said Hight.

The AFSOC team travels around the globe teaching call for fire familiarization to not only Air Force, but Army, Navy and host country servicemembers.

"We're a very requested asset," said Capt. Chris Marr, call for fire instructor from the 16th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon AFB. "Gunships have been in every major conflict since the Vietnam War."

"Even if you don't hear about it," he added.

With state-of-the-art sensors, the AC-130 is a valuable asset for reconnaissance and recovery in either wartime or humanitarian efforts.

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