British JTACs, pilots train like they fight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The sound of 30 mm guns from Moody A-10s ring through the air over Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range almost daily. However, it's not every day these pilots are guided to their targets by British joint terminal attack controllers.

Five British service members trained with Moody A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots, May 6 to 10, with the goal to train like they fight, and strengthen the relationship between these international forces.

"We are currently fighting in a NATO conflict, so we cannot operate on our own," said British army Sgt. Maj. (Master Sgt.) Gareth Thomas, 20th Armored Brigade JTAC instructor. "Most of the aircraft we use downrange are from the U.S. Air Force and Navy. It's important we train with them here so we can understand the different capabilities. We also come out here to maintain our current qualifications as JTACs."

The JTACs and pilots each have their own training requirements, and together they coordinate these to get the most of their time spent on the range. At Grand Bay, the JTACs directed the pilots as they swooped in to strafe and bomb designated targets on the ground.

"It is a great experience to actually meet these pilots and crews so we can better plan our training," said Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant (Capt.) Richard May, 1st Armored Division master JTAC. "Here, we get the opportunity to brief, develop, plan and execute our training with the pilots. We are grateful for the chance to train here, and how we have been received."

Two U.S. Army personnel assigned to Moody help coordinate training between pilots and JTACs from around the world.

"We work with international forces a lot while deployed, so it is important to work out the kinks here," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Schmitt, 357th Field Artillery Detachment ground liaison officer.

"Grand Bay is a live control range, which means they can actually use bombs and ammunition. In other countries the ranges are usually smaller and have more restrictions."

The British service members also trained at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., with Navy aircraft during their trip to the U.S.

Combined, joint training is important because the pilots they work with during training could be the same pilots on the other end of their radio when they go downrange.