Pilots, attack controllers sharpen war skills in Nevada

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Travis Edwards
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Pilots and joint terminal attack controllers, or JTACs, here practiced skills needed in both Iraq and Afghanistan during training over two southern Nevada towns April 23 and 24.

The two towns were Caliente and Panaca, with a combined population of about 1,500 residents, and the training was urban close-air support, or UCAS, which calls for aircraft to support ground operations by attacking targets in close proximity to friendly troops.

"Most training is conducted in rural locations with targets out in the open on the Nevada Test and Training Range, but in the current combat situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops on the ground need support in both urban and rural environments, said Maj. David Epperson, a 16th Weapons School instructor. "The two towns provided just that."

The training involved about 50 members from the 16th Weapons Squadron, 8th WPS and the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron. With exercise like this one, pilots and JTACs get the most realistic training without ever dropping a bomb, he said.

JTACs are Airmen who provide final clearance for aircraft to drop their weapons during close-air support operations.

During this exercise, there were six JTACs on the ground finding targets. They then sent the information to the pilots who "bombed" the targets, according to Master Sgt. Phillip Freeman, a combat controller and JTAC instructor assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

This training is some of the best training they can get in situations that pilots may face, Major Eppereson said. It also prepares JTACs for real-world deployments.

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