Skip to comments.Tempest wizards: why the enemies don't take forward air controllers prisoners?
Posted on 12/15/2019 4:27:06 AM PST by NorseViking
During the years of operation in Syria, the Russian fighters, bombers and attack helicopters rained down on the heads of islamists tons of bombs, missiles and rockets. The great performance of air forces is confirmed by numerous videos and regular reports of the Ministry of Defense of the thousands of destroyed ISIS objects. However, those on the ground who at great risk to themselves helps the flyboys beat the enemy unjustly remain in the shadows. About the dangerous profession of the forward air controllers RIAN is reporting now.
"The eyes of aviation"
Forward air controller (PAN - Russian military slang) is a name for a specially trained soldier operating in close proximity to the enemy. PAN is engaged in the selection of targets, communicates it to the airmen and provides pilots with accurate targeting data. Even an experienced pilot flying at speed of hundreds of miles per hour is unable to correctly see the target. It is hard from height to see a tank or a machine-gun nest and in a timely manner to attack the object. No matter how fancy onboard avionics is: the eye on the ground is firmer and more reliable than any hitech device. Obviously, from land many of the details of what is happening on the battlefield are seen quite differently and more accurately than from the air.
(Excerpt) Read more at ria.ru ...
In the enemy rear.
During the great Patriotic war the Soviet air controllers mainly interacted with the pilots of Il-2, worked at a depth of ten to fifteen miles behind the front line or directly on the front. The tasks of the liaison officers sent by the air force to the army units was in part the control over marking the front edge with signal rockets and smoke, providing the infantry with necessary means the collection and transfer of information on the ground to the air command and informing the ground command about air assets availability in the zone of the operation and their capabilities. The actions of the air controllers had been coordinated by the representative of the operational Department of the air force and army chiefs stationed at the headquarters. Through it attack aircraft were set the task, it gather data about the results. This scheme has reduced the time interval between the submission of the application for the use of attack aircraft and sortie to two hours giving the edge over the Germans with their rigid deteriorating air support in the environment when the Nazis tried to hag close to the Soviet troops to avoid air strikes.
PANs often acted deep behind the enemy lines in teams of army scouts. They brought Shturmoviks (Il-2s) over the German command posts, columns of armor vehicles, warehouses of fuel and ammunition, railway stations, bridges, crossings. They were taught to immediately recognize the silhouettes of Soviet and enemy aircraft, to correctly use the special signal recognition and targeting to identify the camouflaged equipment and shelters of the enemy. PANs had to carry a heavy radio equipment of the era, to know maps well, to be able to move secretly and to properly use martial arts, knives and service weapons to eliminate Nazi patrols to avoid detection.
In Afghanistan (1979-1988), where to draw a clear front line was impossible, the Soviet PANs shouldered satellite walkie-talkies and backpacks with ammunition, along with the Marines and paratroopers went on a long raids through mountain passes. The massive use in the war of assault and transport aircraft has left its mark on their tactics. Often only PANs could assess whether Mi-8 is able to land to evacuate a unit under enemy fire.
The entire Afghan war cost the Soviet military about two dozen air controllers highly skilled professionals-officers, the preparation of which took a lot of time and money. Any enemy in any armed conflict, is well aware of the danger coming from a PAN and islamists are trying to destroy them in the first place. PANs should not stand out against other soldiers, has no right to take risks and obliged to act secretly as possible not to die in vain.
In Syria, the role of forward air controllers is played a specially-trained officers of the Russian Airspace forces. At their disposal the most modern technical means: jamproof radio, compact laser designators, satellite navigation system, electronic range finders and protractors, beacons to denote their positions, and more. But all this high-tech does not make the service of PAN any easier and safer than of their Great patriotic war forefathers, because they are always face to face with the enemy.
The hero of Russia Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko, died 17 March 2016 at Palmyra, he spent the last week of his life in the rear of the terrorists and continuously transmitted information about their whereabouts to the headquarters of military. Largely due to his work, and coordinated the air support, the Syrian army managed to take several strategic heights around the city, destroying dozens of gun emplacements and fortifications of the terrorists and ultimately to force the remnants of the ISIS to leave town. When the terrorists found a position of Prokhorenko and encircled him the officer gave the airmen the last aim, to which every PAN is prepared but hopes it never comes true - he called a strike on himself.
They’re not called Forward Air Controllers in the US Air Force anymore. Now they’re known as JTACs or TACPs: Joint Terminal Air Controllers or Tactical Air Control Party(s). They are Air Force Special Forces, attached to Delta, SEAL, and forward-operating combat units.
How do you say “Danger, close” in Russian?
“How do you say Danger, close in Russian?”
hey! I gots an idear! let’s tell the enemy 1how to negate our air advantage by giving them targets to kill on the ground!
In Russia they were integrated into Marines and army special forces like forever maintaining their status as air force officers. PAN is basically translated as a “forward-deployed aircraft target designator”.
I don’t get your idea.
so the Taliban cannot stop our air forces from obliterating their positions, but they CAN kill the local air traffic controllers, which will nullify any air advantage. this article is giving the enemy ideas on how to defeat us.
I think they aren’t that stupid and know how it works.
Thanks. As a Tactical Radar Controller during the era of Soviet Union, I really enjoyed your information.
You are welcome and thank you for your service!
“...lets tell the enemy how to negate our air advantage by giving them targets to kill on the ground!” [camle, post 6]
“...this article is giving the enemy ideas on how to defeat us.” [camle, post 9]
You’re behind the times. Between 50 and 100 years.
JTACs and other forward-observer troops don’t give target ID nor location in the clear.
They use encoded radio transmissions and grid references.
Even in the grid coordinate system, sending location information presents minimal risk: without knowing the coordinate origin location and measurement system, an adversary listening to radio traffic will hear nothing but a string of numbers.
As far back as 40 years ago, tactical air-ground radios could be equipped with encryption subsystems, encoding all transmissions. They could be re-keyed daily or more often, negating adversary attempts to crack the codes.
I was a USMC enlisted Forward Observer for 81mm mortars in Vietnam and the Field Radio Operator for the FO team. No one got near me in a firefight because they knew that radio operators were a favorite target of the NVA/VC. (M-60 machine gunners were, perhaps, an even more favored target).
Later, as a USMC officer and pilot, I served a tour with an infantry battalion as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) and with an artillery battalion as an Air Liaison Officer (ALO). In all three cases, the FO/FAC/ALO is there to serve the ‘Grunts’, providing massively increased firepower to the boots on the ground.
For some unknown reason, enemy forces seem to disapprove of this assistance.
*** Alexander Prokhorenko ***
A heroic man whose courage is admired by many.
" Any enemy in any armed conflict, is well aware of the danger coming from a PAN and islamists are trying to destroy them in the first place."
Do don't worry, the enemy figured out that forward air controllers are also fighting against them a long time ago.
After reading the last paragraph in the article they will also know that at least as far as the Russians are concerned if you encircle one of their forward air controllers his last act may well be to call in a strike on his own position and that of the encircling enemy.
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