Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Stewart Fergusson, a joint terminal air controller with the 17th Air Support Operations Squadron wrote down targetting information in preparation to pass on coordinates to the pilots, Dec. 4.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Courtney C. White

MATSS Beaufort works with Joint Assets — ‘it’s one cohesive fight’

11 Dec 2009 | Lance Cpl. Courtney C. White

“Target Terminated,” shouted the pilot into his radio while glancing out of the cockpit at the smoke rising from the ground below.

The Marine Aviation Training Systems Site Beaufort hosted Dynamic Targeting and Close Air Support, a joint training exercise, Dec. 1-3.

Pilots used to have to depend on radar, coordinates and their eyesight to provide direct air to ground support. Now they have the advantage of state of the art equipment such as the Joint Range Extension, Rover 5, Vortex, Net-T, Link 16, SADL and PRC 117F.

The JRE is used to link all the other systems, which provide command and control messages that help direct the pilots. The JRE is widely used throughout the Marine Corps in a variety of programs.

When linked together in a surveillance and reconnaissance network, this equipment enhances communication between ground and air assets, improving operational readiness and mission accomplishment.

“This training allows us to familiarize ourselves with different technologies available to us and establish working relationships with other services,” said Maj. Greg McGuire, the MATSS Beaufort officer in charge.

Four squadrons from Marine Aircraft Group 31 joined Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 and 13 squadrons and units including the 75th Fighter Attack Squadron from Moody Air Force Base and Robins AFB Joint Surveillance Target Radar System in the joint endeavor. The JSTARS are capable of determining the direction, speed and patterns of military ground vehicles and aircraft.

“By training together we’re able to learn more about each others’ technology,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Menges, the director of operations with the 330th Combat Training Squadron. “It’s one cohesive fight.”

The 330th Combat Training Squadron, part of the JSTARS 116th Air Control Wing, supports the Marine Corps and Army ground forces with air to ground radar surveillance by determining if the ‘movers’ or questionable vehicles, are hostile or friendly.

Throughout out the exercise, vehicles on the ground pretended to be aggressors and moved along the highway suspiciously. The friendly ground forces used the JRE, Rover 5 and Vortex with Net-T software to assist participating F/A-18 Hornet and A-10 Warthog pilots target the aggressors.

A special video camera attached to the bottom of an aircraft relayed a ground photo to a hand held screen, Rover 5 or Vortex. Images viewed by ground forces were then described in detail to pilots, assisting them in acquiring their targets.

“This is state of the art equipment that will provide our service members with the ability to terminate targets,” according to Mark Bryant, senior program manager, L3 communications, Salt Lake City.

Exercises such as these help participants establish new working relationships and increase the knowledge base of the surveillance and reconnaissance network community. Using these technologies enhances the overall capabilities of our armed forces, preparing them for what may lie ahead.