How air support works in real life

jrv

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Encircled in Bastogne:

William "Wild Bill" Guarnere said:
We were given panels--giant orange and red panels, about four-by-twenty feet, with stakes in them, and we put them out at nine in the morning, positioning them all around our lines so the air force can tell us apart from the Germans. We heard the first P-47s come in, we saw them overhead, and they started shooting at our panels, and by the count of ten, the panels were destroyed. When the next wave of planes came, and there were no panels to put out, we were scared as hell. We took cover. The planes came down shooting at us, strafing the woods, everything.
From Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends

JR
 

witchbottles

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Since 1981 USMC doctrine requires a FAC to be a qualified fighter / attack pilot. His RTO must be a qualified fighter / attack technician NCO. FACs are attached to front line ground units and are the ones communicating directly with the A/C
 

jrv

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Since 1981 USMC doctrine requires a FAC to be a qualified fighter / attack pilot. His RTO must be a qualified fighter / attack technician NCO. FACs are attached to front line ground units and are the ones communicating directly with the A/C
And still friendly fire occurs. But of course that's not limited to air support, and they seem to try pretty hard to prevent it.

JR
 

witchbottles

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sadly, that is true. Desert Storm saw 1/3rd of all losses from Blue on Blue engagement. And that was with SatCom SINGCARS, GPS, PGM, and Steath technologies in play against a fairly defeatist opponent willing to surrender in most cases - and a textbook execution of operation.
 

Flarvin

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sadly, that is true. Desert Storm saw 1/3rd of all losses from Blue on Blue engagement. And that was with SatCom SINGCARS, GPS, PGM, and Steath technologies in play against a fairly defeatist opponent willing to surrender in most cases - and a textbook execution of operation.
My unit did not get SINGCARS or GPS until after the war, by about 6 months. In fact I don't remember any of the units my team was attached to having them either.

All navigation was done with a compass and maps.
 

witchbottles

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My unit did not get SINGCARS or GPS until after the war, by about 6 months. In fact I don't remember any of the units my team was attached to having them either.

All navigation was done with a compass and maps.
we had GPS installed in our helos in July 1990 via RAMEC boxes velcroed to the center console glare shields and the Com/Nav closet framing received a RA-AFC for SINGCARS. the GPS got put in by a I-level team aboard ship en route - SINGCARS was put in by a D-level field team at Riyadh just before we deployed to the Berm at Al-Khafjii. On arrival, our hummers (3 of them detailed to us for C and C and weapons transport) had GPS via a velcroed box on the center dash as well - that was Jul-Aug 1990, well before we began entries over the berm to drop special insertions.

The unit in question was HMH-461, as part of the ACE 24th MEU. Our escort, C Co 2nd Recon Bn had all their hummers with GPS as of December 31st, 1990, per orders prior to the commencement of air strike ops over the berm.

Prior to GPS, our helos used LORAN, TACAN and an INS system for navigation, capable of storing up to 255 waypoints, not aerial maps or the compass gimbals. Compass and map reading for aerial nav in the desert was:

a. not viable once one lost LOS to any visual cues.
b. not viable once the skies began filling with soot from the fires - removing and reducing LOS to visual cues.
c. not viable in an aircraft moving in excess of 100 m.p.h. over the desert floor at various altitudes - too much time lag for combat ops.
d. not viable at low altitude hovers with the massive clouds of dust billowing from the rotor wash blinding out your LOS to visual cues.

Sure, we broke out a map and compass on occasions, those we call IFR - instrument flight reference - ( orI Follow Roads) - when the route to home plate is socked in with fog - 0 vis from 0 to 8000 AGL - so you drop low enough to find the hue of street lights and city lights, locate the road networks thanks to the car headlight streams while in a hover at about 100 or so feet, then follow the road net home -

but that's peacetime ops tempo stuff - do that in indian country, you were gonna get a rocket up your ass.
 
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Flarvin

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we had GPS installed in our helos in July 1990 via RAMEC boxes velcroed to the center console glare shields and the Com/Nav closet framing received a RA-AFC for SINGCARS. the GPS got put in by a I-level team aboard ship en route - SINGCARS was put in by a D-level field team at Riyadh just before we deployed to the Berm at Al-Khafjii. On arrival, our hummers (3 of them detailed to us for C and C and weapons transport) had GPS via a velcroed box on the center dash as well - that was Jul-Aug 1990, well before we began entries over the berm to drop special insertions.

The unit in question was HMH-461, as part of the ACE 24th MEU. Our escort, C Co 2nd Recon Bn had all their hummers with GPS as of December 31st, 1990, per orders prior to the commencement of air strike ops over the berm.

Prior to GPS, our helos used LORAN, TACAN and an INS system for navigation, capable of storing up to 255 waypoints, not aerial maps or the compass gimbals. Compass and map reading for aerial nav in the desert was:

a. not viable once one lost LOS to any visual cues.
b. not viable once the skies began filling with soot from the fires - removing and reducing LOS to visual cues.
c. not viable in an aircraft moving in excess of 100 m.p.h. over the desert floor at various altitudes - too much time lag for combat ops.
d. not viable at low altitude hovers with the massive clouds of dust billowing from the rotor wash blinding out your LOS to visual cues.

Sure, we broke out a map and compass on occasions, those we call IFR - instrument flight reference - ( orI Follow Roads) - when the route to home plate is socked in with fog - 0 vis from 0 to 8000 AGL - so you drop low enough to find the hue of street lights and city lights, locate the road networks thanks to the car headlight streams while in a hover at about 100 or so feet, then follow the road net home -

but that's peacetime ops tempo stuff - do that in indian country, you were gonna get a rocket up your ass.
I was ground side, A Co 1st radio bn. I lead a team of 6 Marines, and navigated by compass, maps and landmarks (mainly roads). All the units my team was attached to were ground units. Which none had GPS or SINGCARS. Even the units I gave ECM classes didn't have any. Including a recon unit, but that was in November.

There was a helo unit near my company for about 2 weeks around Thanksgiving, but I never saw what they used. They did buzz our tents a couple times. lol

Friendly fire was my biggest fear. I always had the flare to signal friendly unit on me at all times.
 

witchbottles

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The Recon company was standard issue for a MEU built to sail aboard an LPH. There was berthing for exactly one company of Marines aboard the LPH, then three line companies aboard the three LPDs in the PhibRon, and the AAVP company, M1A1 platoon, and the company from the LAAD Bn rode aboard the LSD in the PhibRon - standard issue MEU-SOC (we had a Scout Sniper team a well assigned to the MEU commander, an arty battery mostly mortars broken up across the LPDs, ACDG-DACG team, etc.)

Being airwing - we mustered 4 UH-1Ns command/control birds with the big PRC114 series radios and GAU-7As in the doors; 6 AH-1W Sea Cobras with the usual assortment of 20mm and Hellfire ATGM death aboard, 8 CH-46E Sea Knights, and our birds, the 6 CH-53E Super Stallions - as the Air Combat Element (ACE).

We liked our Recon bodyguards - they were tough Mofo-s and covered our six well when we had to pull out most ricky-tick as the ground war started up in Al-Khafjii.

Fast Forward 2 years to Dec 1992, I was with HMH-466 deployed by C-5A's to Baidoa, Somalia, desert rock-hole of the Earth that time and God forgot, as part of Restore Hope UNITAF.

We lost a whirlybird in the desert about 35 km from anywhere useful due to tail rotor coupling failure. Crashed, all unharmed but immobile in a VERy unfriendly desert.
Lo and behold, the Recon boys arrive with some Legionnaires out of Djibouti visiting us, via other birds from our squadron - and a platoon of combat engineers from the Mog. The SINGCARS rack and its KY-57s were wired for demolition as we evack'd the area. Big-a, bad-a boom, no more SINGCARS or scramblers or even a recognizable chopper down there.
They grabbed the GPS transceivers but blew the hard mounted radios in place, no messing around.

The only experience I ever had with a comms unit was on the rock- on a field-ex with a company of grunts as the radioman for an Air Liason Officer from our unit.Worked closely with the 0621's assigned to the company for that exercise.
 
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