Czech JTACs navigated an AH-64 Apache helicopter to the target in the U.S.A.
Czech forward air controllers have been among the best world aviation leaders for several years. The task of these indispensable specialists throughout the armies is to accurately and flawlessly navigate the aircrafts and helicopters to targets that should be destroyed. Our JTACs, as they are commonly called today, had a chance to test the aircrafts of the fourth and fifth generation and navigate drones armed with smart ammunition to their targets at the Texas Red Flag exercise in the U.S.A. in November.
“Czech air controllers take part in foreign missions on regular basis. They are deployed here with Alliance soldiers and, therefore, they must know the technology and armament of the partners in detail,” explains one of the members of the JTAC Unit (Joint Terminal Attack Controller).
The air controller is the one who, if necessary, decides which ammunition will be used in the aircraft. And this decision is very important in the built-up areas. “The JTAC must not endanger the lives of their colleagues or civilians. “So, it is not ‘only’ about procedures, but also about perfect knowledge of technology and ammunition,” he emphasizes.
The main theme of the exercise was to support the units operating in the built-up area. The Czechs had the opportunity to update procedures and training with American partners, as well as to work with the aircrafts of the fourth and fifth generation and strategic drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, which are armed with modern and smart ammunition, but also the state-of-the-art sensors for air to ground attacks and for research. Apart from other planes, they also navigated the AH-64 Apache helicopter to the target. “The only aircraft in the Czech Air Force that has these sensors is the JAS 39 Gripen. On the other hand, the Mi-35 helicopters from the home base of the air controllers don’t have these sensors and the possibilities of using smart ammunition are very limited,” reveals one of the Czech JTACs.
The aim of the exercise that took place day and night was to practice the ability of cooperation of forward air controllers and it was aimed at supporting Special Operation Forces (SOF).
“Every such exercise is beneficial for us and the experience gained can be further used in further missions and home training,” one of the four air controllers, who were sent to the U.S.A by the 22nd Heliocpter Air Force Base, evaluated the training in the U.S.A.
The air controllers also participated in the basic shooting qualification for the US Air Force within the training. Two members of the JTAC ‘shot’ the rating ‘Expert’ in both disciplines (rifle and pistol) and received the USAF Expert Marksmanship Ribon.