March 3 airpower: JTACS critical in fight

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U.S. Central Command Air Forces officials have released the airpower summary for March 3.

Coalition fighters, bombers and tankers provide infrastructure protection and support to coalition troops, reconstruction activities and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities. Transports provide intra-theater heavy airlift support, helping sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

In Afghanistan March 3, F-15E Strike Eagles provided close-air support for a coalition convoy receiving small arms and mortar fire near Musa Qal'eh. The F-15E pilots searched the area and continued to provide overwatch for the convoy.

Other F-15Es provided a show of force, expending flares for coalition forces near Forward Operating Base Carlson. The F-15Es also conducted reconnaissance of a trail along a ridgeline, suspected mortar positions and possible enemy mortar team movement. The F-15Es then conducted a show of force on a suspected enemy rocket propelled grenade position. A joint terminal attack controller, or JTAC, reported the loud noise from F-15Es provided a good result. 

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

Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets conducted reconnaissance for suspected mortar positions and suspicious activity near a compound and two field locations near Shurakian.

Other U.S. Navy F/A-18s provided a show of force for coalition forces in contact with the enemy near Musa Qal'eh. A JTAC confirmed good effects.

Royal Air Force GR-7 Harriers dropped Enhanced Paveway II munitions on an enemy mortar fire position hiding within craters near Now Zad. A JTAC observed direct hits on target.

In total, 35 close-air support missions were flown in support of the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan troops, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Five U.S. and Royal Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, U.S. Navy fighter aircraft performed in non-traditional ISR roles with their electro-optical and infrared sensors.

In Iraq, an MQ-1 Predator fired a Hellfire missile at an enemy Bongo truck near Fallujah. The missile successfully hit the vehicle.

Another Predator fired a Hellfire missile at an anti-aircraft artillery mounted vehicle near Fallujah. The missile successfully hit the vehicle.

F-16 Fighting Falcons dropped Guided Bomb Unit-12s on a stationary enemy vehicle near Fallujah. Battle damage assessment was reported as successful.

Other F-16s were assigned reconnaissance in an area near Fallujah. A JTAC member passed the location of a targeted individual who was hiding in a hole in the vicinity. The F-16s dropped GBU-12s, though the target was not struck. 

A-10 Thunderbolts provided armed overwatch for cordon and search operations in the vicinity of Fallujah. A JTAC reported that an anti-aircraft artillery piece was observed by an unmanned aerial vehicle. The truck appeared to be towing a trailer with a tarp over it. The truck was traveling at a high rate of speed and finally stopped off the road. The A-10s observed individuals exit the truck. One began running toward the northwest. The other two individuals stayed near the truck. The A-10s were assigned reconnaissance of the one individual that departed the area, but no further movement was observed.

Also, near Fallujah, a JTAC reported a Bongo truck mounted with anti-aircraft weapons and requested A-10s strike the truck. The JTAC passed corrections on movement of individuals to a tree line just south of Fallujah. The A-10s expended multiple cannon rounds. The JTAC called "good hit" and requested immediate re-attack.

The A-10s pilots provided overwatch and reconnaissance for coalition forces moving from one forward operating base to another.

During another incident a JTAC reported a fleeing enemy hiding in a hole and the A-10s were cleared to engage. The A-10s made several gun and rocket passes and fired rockets near the target area. The JTAC observed via an unmanned aerial vehicle and reported the enemy running south. 

F-16s expended cannon rounds on an enemy vehicle near Fallujah. A JTAC confirmed the gun pass was successful.

F-16s dropped a GBU-12 on an enemy hiding in a quarry near Fallujah. A JTAC called the strike successful.

In Samarra, F-16s conducted reconnaissance at a coalition route and multiple suspected enemy positions, helping to alert ground troops to danger ahead.

In total, coalition aircraft flew 48 close-air support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions included support to coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.

Additionally, 17 Air Force, Navy and Royal Air Force ISR aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq. 

C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift support, helping sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. They flew approximately 145 airlift sorties, delivered more than 300 tons of cargo and transported approximately 2,850 passengers.

Coalition C-130 crews from Canada, Australia and South Korea flew in support of OIF or OEF.

On March 1, U.S. and Royal Air Force aircraft flew 31 sorties and off-loaded more than 2 million pounds of fuel, which is the equivalent of more than 50 full Air Force logistics readiness fuel trucks.