Forward air control
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (April 2010)|
Forward air control is the provision of guidance to close air support (CAS) aircraft intended to ensure that their attack hits the intended target and does not injure friendly troops. This task is carried out by a forward air controller (FAC). For NATO forces the qualifications and experience required to be a FAC are set out in a NATO Standard (STANAG). FACs may form part of a Fire Support Team or Tactical Air Control Party, they may be ground based, airborne FACs in fixed-wing aircraft (FAC-A) or in helicopters (ABFAC). Since 2003 the United States Armed Forces have used the term joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) for some of their ground based FACs.
A primary function of a Forward Air Controller is ensuring the safety of friendly troops. Enemy targets in the Front line ("Forward Edge of the Battle Area" in US terminology) are often close to friendly forces and therefore friendly forces are at risk of friendly fire through proximity during air attack. The danger is twofold: the bombing pilot cannot identify the target clearly, and is not aware of the locations of friendly forces. Camouflage, constantly changing situation and the fog of war all increase the risk. Forward Air Controllers are not needed for air interdiction, the term used for air attacks conducted at further distances from friendly forces.
- 1 Early air ground support
- 2 World War II
- 3 Post World War II
- 4 Korean War
- 5 Vietnam War
- 6 Indo-Pakistani War
- 7 Portuguese Overseas War
- 8 Rhodesia
- 9 South Africa
- 10 Present day doctrines
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Early air ground support
Even as close air support began during World War I, there were pioneer attempts to direct the trench strafing by the ground troops laying out signal panels on the ground, firing flares, or lighting smoke signals. Aircrews had difficulty communicating with the ground troops; they would drop messages or use messenger pigeons. Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg, an Austro-Hungarian pilot, pioneered the use of radio for fire control; at the Battle of Gorlice he used a radio transmitter in his airplane to send changes via morse code to an artillery battery on the ground. Colonel Billy Mitchell also equipped his Spad XVI command airplane with a radio, and the Germans experimented with radios in their Junkers J 1.
The Marines in the so-called Banana Republic wars of the 1920s and 1930s used Curtiss Falcons and Vought Corsairs that were equipped with radios powered by airstream-driven generators, with a range of up to 50 miles. Another method of communication was for the pilot to drop messages in a weighted container, and to swoop in and pick up messages hung out by ground troops on a "clothesline" between poles. The objective was aerial reconnaissance and air attack. Using these various methods, the Marine pilots combined the functions of both FAC and strike aircraft, as they carried out their own air attacks on the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in 1927. The commonality of pilots and ground troops belonging to the same service led to a close air support role similar to that sought by use of FACs, without the actual use of a FAC. This distinctive doctrine would persist, recurring in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
French colonial operations in the Rif War from 1920–1926 used air power similarly to the Marines in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas but in a different environment, the desert. The French Mobile Groups of combined arms not only used aircraft for scouting and air attack; the airplanes carried trained artillery officers as observers. These aerial observers called in artillery fire via radio.
When the United States Army Air Forces was founded on 20 June 1941, it included provisions for Air Ground Control Parties to serve with the United States Army at the division, corps, and Army headquarters. The Air Ground Control Parties functions were to regulate bombing and artillery in close conjunction with the ground troops, as well as assess bomb damage. They were thus the first of similar units to try to fulfill the functions of the FAC without being airborne. However, these units were often plagued by "turf wars" and cumbersome communications between the respective armies and air forces involved. As a result, it could take hours for an air strike requested by ground troops to actually show up.
World War II
Forward Air Control came into existence as a result of exigency, and was used in several theaters of World War II. It was a result of field expedience rather than planned operations.
Europe and Africa
FACs were first used by the British Desert Air Force in North Africa, but not by the USAAF until operations in Salerno. During the North African Campaign in 1941 the British Army and the Royal Air Force established Forward Air Support Links (FASL), a mobile air support system using ground vehicles. Light reconnaissance aircraft would observe enemy activity and report it by radio to the FASL which was attached at brigade level. The FASL was in communication (a two-way radio link known as a "tentacle") with the Air Support Control (ASC) Headquarters attached to the corps or armoured division which could summon support through a Rear Air Support Link with the airfields. They also introduced the system of ground direction of air strikes by what was originally termed a "Mobile Fighter Controller" traveling with the forward troops. The controller rode in the "leading tank or armoured car" and directed a "cab rank" of aircraft above the battlefield.
During Operation Barbarossa, in the late 1941, Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen circled over retreating Russian troops in a Fieseler Storch and called in Stukas and other German ground attack aircraft on them.
By the time the Italian Campaign had reached Rome, the Allies had established air superiority. They were then able to pre-schedule strikes by fighter-bomber squadrons; however, by the time the aircraft arrived in the strike area, oftimes the targets, which were usually trucks, had fled. The initial solution to fleeting targets was the British "Rover" system. These were pairings of air controllers and army liaison officers at the front but able to switch communications seamlessly from one brigade to another - hence Rover. Incoming strike aircraft arrived with pre-briefed targets, which they would strike 20 minutes after arriving on station only if the Rovers had not directed them to another more pressing target. Rovers might call on artillery to mark targets with smoke shells, or they might direct the fighters to map grid coordinates, or they might resort to a description of prominent terrain features as guidance. However, one drawback for the Rovers was the constant rotation of pilots, who were there for fortnightly stints, leading to a lack of institutional memory. US commanders, impressed by British at the Salerno landings, adapted their own doctrine to include many features of the British system.
Call signs for the Rovers were "Rover Paddy" and "Rover David" for the RAF; the names were those of the fighter pilots who originated the idea. The American version was "Rover Joe". Rover Joe was not an individual, but an ad hoc unit of a pilot forward air controller, a ground forward air controller, and fifteen enlisted men, including communications specialists and other ranks. The unit could move right along with the ground forces it supported.
It soon became apparent that air strikes could be used even beyond the range of marking artillery, and that better target marking methods were needed. This led to the Horsefly FACs. There are two accounts of the origin of the Horsefly FACs in this case; both may be true, as they are not contradictory.
- One version tells of an anonymous L-5 Sentinel pilot who mentioned the FAC concept to Tactical Air Controller Captain William Davidson. Davidson then bucked it up the line to his seniors in Tactical Air Command.
- The other version says Colonel Earl Reichert asked his commander to borrow a couple of liaison aircraft from General Mark Clark.
Regardless of inspiration, the first Horsefly FACs were launched on 28 June 1944. The scrounged L-5s had been equipped with SCR-522 VHF radios, and were flown by volunteer fighter-bomber pilots. Fighter-bomber squadrons were instructed that FAC missions had priority in targeting. The Horseflies operated at an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, ranging above small arms fire, roving up to 20 miles inside German lines, and marking targets with smoke bombs. To aid the strike pilots in seeing the tiny liaison craft, the upper wing surfaces were painted with one of four bright colors. Call signs were keyed to these colors: Horsefly Red, Green, Yellow, or Blue. When the German ground troops realized that the silvery-bottomed Horseflies were deadly, they concentrated fire on them. The counter to that was to paint the Horseflies the same khaki as ordinary artillery spotters. The Germans then became leery of firing on any of the khaki observation aircraft.
The Horseflies were obviously susceptible to enemy air attack and ground fire; they also added radio traffic to an already overburdened network. However, their effectiveness outweighed their disadvantages. The Horseflies became an integral part of XII Tactical Air Command, and moved with them from Italy to southern France to southern Germany. The Horseflies saw action until the end of the European war. Horsefly losses amounted to one L-5 wiping out its landing gear in a landing accident.
North West Europe
With the invasion of Europe (D Day), Fighter bombers began a new direct support role, operating with the assistance of radio-equipped FACs on the ground with the supported formations. The fighter bombers were on call from "Cab Ranks", orbiting points close to the forward edge of the battle area. From these Cab Ranks, the FACs could very quickly call on air support for any targets of opportunity or threats to the troops in their area. These FACs operated from White Scout Cars or Half Tracks (and later tanks) equipped with a wide range of radio sets for both ground to air and ground to ground communications. Airborne FACs were supplied from the Air Observation Post Squadrons of the RAF.
Pacific and South Asia
In November 1942 units of the Australian and United States Armies were fighting the Japanese in the Battle of Buna-Gona, New Guinea. 4 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force was an army cooperation squadron flying support for the ground effort, in outdated two-seater CAC Wirraway trainers. They sometimes used the second seat to carry an observer. The local terrain was jungled; ground troops had difficulty in observing the enemy or in staying linked with one another. Therefore, the Wirraway pilots, with their superior observation, began directing artillery fire onto the Japanese from the air via radio, as well as carrying out their own strafing and bombing. One pilot, Pilot Officer J. Archer, even shot down a Japanese Zero, for the only known aerial victory by an Australian FAC.
In early 1943 the Japanese launched an offensive against Wau. On 3 February 1943, a 4 Squadron Wirraway recced (performed Reconnaissance mission) Japanese dispositions at 1:20 PM. It left, to return at 2:39 leading the Bristol Beaufighters of 30 Squadron RAAF into the target area. The Wirraway marked the target with tracer fire, and the Beaufighters struck. A Japanese prisoner captured shortly thereafter reported that out of the 60 troops in his vicinity, 40 had been killed by the air strike. Later, in December 1944, 4 Squadron directed the US 7th Fighter Squadron as they supported an Australian army attack in the Battle of Shaggy Ridge.
The other cooperation squadron in the theater, 5 Squadron, also took up the forward air control role. Both squadrons were re-equipped with the CAC Boomerang, which was an Australian fighter-bomber containing many Wirraway components. The Boomerangs had performance comparable to enemy fighters, and became the original fast FACs. Dissatisfaction with the poor target marking possible with tracer bullets led to 5 Squadron's use of 30 pound phosphorus bombs on Bougainville in 1944. During the Bougainville campaign, FACs from 5 Squadron directed as many as 20 Corsairs at a time in air strikes. With practice, ordnance came to be delivered as close as 150 yards from friendly troops.
Aleutian Islands Campaign
American aerial attackers had to contend with fog and low-lying cloud cover, as well as heavy Japanese defensive ground fire. The situation led to the use of forward air control. On 16 May 1943, General Eugene M. Landrum ordered his air chief of staff, Colonel William O. Eareckson to coordinate air strikes with ground operations for the invasion of Attu. Eareckson borrowed an OS2U Kingfisher from the USS Casco (AVP-12). Using the seaplane's low speed and maneuverability to his advantage, Eareckson flew reconnaissance missions to spot Japanese positions. He would then spiral up through the clouds to rendezvous with strike aircraft and either lead the strike into the targets or describe the target location to the fighter-bombers. Ground fire not only hit the Kingfisher; it sometimes punctured the plane's single float. Eareckson would land in shallow water, beach the plane, and plug the bullet holes with rubber plugs before resuming his mission.
By May 1944 the Air Forces in Burma had worked out the technique of forward air control. This was exercised by a party of one or two officers plus six to eight enlisted men. They approved targets selected by the Army, called up air strikes by radio, and if necessary guided the aircraft to the target. On occasion, liaison aircraft would observe the strike. For the Chindit's Operation Thursday each column had a forward air controller to direct support from Mitchell and Mustang aircraft.
Post World War II
U.S. Air Force versus U.S. Marine Corps
In the United States, despite its success in battle, the role of the FAC was not codified into doctrine until after the war's end, by which time no FACs remained in service in the US. In 1946, Army Field Manual 31-35 became the repository of the lessons learned by experience in battle. However, in 1947, the United States Air Force became a separate service, intent on strategic bombing. U.S. Air Force Forward Air Control expertise existed only on paper. Their doctrine ranked air operations importance as being primarily concentrated on strategic bombing, with interdiction operations secondary, and close air support last. The Air Force believed in central control of close air support originated by FACs within Tactical Air Control Parties assigned to the Army at regimental and divisional level. By contrast, the U.S. Marine Corps placed its TACPs down to battalion level; air strike requests for naval air originated with the commanding officer. However, the greatest practical difference between the two systems lay in their very definition of close air support. The Air Force considered air strikes anywhere within artillery range of friendly units to be close air support. The Marines defined it as air strikes within 50 to 200 yards of friendly troops, delivered within fifteen minutes of request.
British Commonwealth operations
The United Kingdom and Commonwealth continued to build on its experience in the Second World War in various campaigns around the world in the second half of the twentieth century, including the Malayan Emergency, the Suez Crisis, the Indonesian Confrontation and operations in Aden and Oman. With the re-formation of the Army Air Corps in 1957 this new corps's functions included airborne forward air control.
War of movement
The first comprehensive airborne forward air controller program was developed in Korea. Two weeks into the Korean War, the need for forward air control was starkly apparent, a powerful North Korean offensive was advancing so rapidly that the locations of the invaders could literally change hourly. US F-80 Shooting Stars flying from Japan had barely enough range to dump their bombs and turn back to base. Tactical Air Control Parties struggled to direct the air effort, but found their powers of observation limited by rugged terrain, near horizons, and an ever shifting tactical situation.
Once again, there are dual and non-contradictory tales of the FAC startup effort. Lieutenant Colonel Stanley P. Latiolas, operations officer of the Fifth Air Force that was operating in Korea, suggested having a slower airplane spot targets for the fuel-hog jets. Colonel John R. Murphy, who knew of the success of the Horseflies, asked the Commanding General of the Fifth Air Force, Earle E. Partridge for five pilots to fly reconnaissance.
On 9 July 1950, Lieutenants James A. Bryant and Frank G. Mitchell flew the first FAC missions of the Korean War from K-5 Taejon Air Base. They flew into K-5 with two L-5G Sentinels modified with VHF radios but were unable to get the radio to work. Borrowing two 24th Division L-17s, the lieutenants—working under callsigns "Angelo Fox" and "Angelo George" (the Joint Operations Center being called "Angelo")—called down about 10 flights of F-80s resulting in what Lt. Col. John R. Murphy called "the best day in Fifth Air Force history."
The following day saw the first use of a T-6 Texan for a FAC plane. During the direction of RAAF P-51 Mustangs, the T-6 radio became unserviceable. The FAC continued indicating targets by flying over them and rocking his wings. The resulting strikes were the first of many successful attacks made without radio contact, as United Nations bombers operated on many non-compatible radio frequencies. The T-6 became the standard FAC aircraft for Korean use; several of the smaller, slower liaison planes were shot down by North Korean Yaks (including 6 L-17s lost to enemy air action) and they were retired. Fifth Air Force also turned to higher performance aircraft for the FAC mission. P-51 Mustangs and F4U Corsairs were used to penetrate enemy air space after it had become too hazardous for T-6s.
The two original FACs had switched to a T-6 and promptly flew a sortie directing air strikes by P-80s that knocked out 17 North Korean tanks near Chonui. The T-6 Texan was such an obvious success for directing air strikes that an ad hoc forward air control unit began to coalesce; it would become the 6147th Tactical Control Group nicknamed the Mosquitoes. More T-6s and more pilots were acquired. The 6147th TCG became one squadron working as three man Tactical Air Control Parties in radio jeeps, and two squadrons of aerial forward air controllers. C-47s were also used by the group as Airborne Command and Control Centers.
Although the T-6 entered the FAC role as a "hot" aircraft, it was soon encumbered with numerous adaptations that degraded its performance. A belly tank was added to extend its range. Both members of the crew wore complete survival gear, and the plane was loaded up with smoke grenades. Eventually, a dozen smoke rockets were added under each wing for marking targets. With half a ton of added weight, the T-6 was limited to a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), and its service ceiling was considerably reduced. The lower performance was not the only detriment to the T-6's role in forward air control. It is a low-wing monoplane; consequently, the plane often had to be flown tilted to one side for visibility. However, the Texan's ruggedness, easy maintenance, and ability to operate from small rough airfields outweighed the disadvantages. The 6147th tested the L-19, later known as the O-1 Bird Dog. The L-19 offered no better performance than the Texan and was unarmored. It was rejected because of its vulnerability to ground fire. There was also an abortive attempt to use the L-17 Navion as a FAC aircraft. The Navion's low wing design precluded any success in observation.
During 1950, the 6147th Tactical Control Group operated as far as 50 miles into enemy territory, using relay aircraft to remain in radio contact. The Mosquitoes proved their worth by directing the limited number of air strikes against the most important enemy targets, optimizing the United Nations firepower.
By July 1951, the war had ground to a stalemate. As a consequence, North Korean and Chinese ground fire had become such a threat that Mosquitoes penetrated only a couple of miles into enemy lines. The enemy had also noted that the T-6s operated at low altitude, and often flew below cloud cover to navigate. Being adaptable and ingenious, the communists took to stringing wire cables from ridgetop to ridgetop to catch Mosquitoes. They even infiltrated the United Nations lines to string up cables on the friendly side.
In mid-November 1952, the Mosquito T-6s were called upon to direct the battlefield interdiction strikes being flown for Operation Cherokee. Unlike the Close Air Support missions usually improvised by the FACs, the Cherokee strikes were preplanned raids of about 50 aircraft. Although planned interdiction raids would not seem to need guidance, the size of the attacking force tended to overwhelm TACPs. Mosquitoes marking the targets with smoke rockets helped lighten the load. The Cherokee strikes were successful in destroying enough supplies to hamper the Communist effort.
By war's end, the United Nations air campaign had become so dependent on airborne FAC's directing strikes on targets invisible to ground FACs that the latter could go three months without directing a strike.
The Mosquitoes flew through war's end, amassing 40,354 sorties, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a Korean Presidential Unit Citation. The Mosquitoes lost 33 men and 42 aircraft during the course of the war. The Mosquitoes were disbanded in 1956, as they were considered a wartime expedient. After they were disbanded, the United States once again had no Forward Air Control capabilities.
In the Vietnam war, Forward Air Controllers were VNAF (Viet Nam Air Force) pilots until 1963 when the USAF 19th TASS (Tactical Air Support Squadron) was deployed to Vietnam in June. The United States unleashed a tremendous amount of air power during the Vietnam War. It would be controlled by the most widespread forward air control effort in history. The rugged jungle terrain readily hid communist troop movements. American fighter-bombers were so fast that pilots had great difficulty in distinguishing between enemy troops, friendly troops, and civilians. Forward air controllers directing air strikes thus became essential in usage of air power. Visual reconnaissance formed the core FAC mission during the Vietnam War, as the FAC flew light aircraft slowly over the rough terrain at low altitude to maintain constant aerial surveillance. By patrolling the same area constantly, the FACs grew very familiar with the terrain, and they learned to detect any changes that could indicate enemy forces hiding below. Tracks on the ground, misplaced vegetable patches, an absence of water buffalo, smoke from cooking fires in the jungle, too many farmers working the fields—all could indicate enemy troops in a vicinity.
Flying low and slow over enemy forces was very dangerous; however the enemy usually held his fire to avoid discovery. Each of the O-1 FAC aircraft originally used carried three different radios for coordinating with everyone involved in an air strike: an FM radio for the ground forces, a UHF radio for the fighter aircraft, and a VHF radio for contact with the Air Force Tactical Air Control Party to coordinate approvals and requests for air support. The FAC radioed for strike aircraft after spotting the enemy. He marked the target with smoke grenades or white-phosphorus rockets to pinpoint targets. After directing the fighter-bombers' attacks, the FAC would fly low over the target to assess the damage.
Major Atma Singh, of the Indian Army, flying the forward air control mission in a HAL Krishak, played a crucial part in this successful defense against steep odds. The Pakistani loss of armor was one of the most severe since the great armored clashes of World War II. Major Singh won the Maha Vir Chakra for his performance under heavy ground fire.
Portuguese Overseas War
During the Portuguese Overseas War, the Portuguese Air Force used mainly Dornier Do 27 and OGMA/Auster D.5 light aircraft in the forward air control role, in the several theatres of operation: Angola, Portuguese Guinea and Mozambique.
Present day doctrines
NATO is making efforts to increase the safety and reduce the risk of fratricide in air to ground operations. Co-operation between different NATO agencies such as the NATO Standardization Agency and the JAPCC resulted in the development of common standards for Forward Air Controllers and these are now set out in STANAG 3797 (Minimum Qualifications for Forward Air Controllers). NATO FACs are trained to request, plan, brief and execute CAS operations both for Low Level and Medium/High Level operations and their training NATO FACs includes electronic warfare, suppression of enemy air defences, enemy air defence, air command and control, attack methods and tactics and weaponeering.
United Kingdom Armed Forces today
FACs in the United Kingdom are trained at the Joint Forward Air Controller Training Standards Unit (JFACTSU). In light of operational experience British FACs now form part of Fire Support Teams as well as TACPs able to direct a wide range of fires FACs are also provided by the Royal Marines (and Royal Marines Reserve) and some from the RAF Regiment Tactical Air Control Parties. The Army Air Corps also provides Airborne Forward Air Contollers. Cornet Prince Harry, the fourth in line to the British throne, served as a FAC on Operation Herrick during 2007 and 2008.
United States Marine Corps
- must be winged Naval Aviators or NFO with at least 2 years operational flying experience.
- must have attended and graduated from the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group (EWTG) Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) course.
- Must be male.
At the completion of the TACP course Aviators are granted the 7502 FAC MOS and are considered certified and qualified JTACs.
Non-aviator FACs in the United States Marine Corps must meet the following requirements:
- They must be a Noncommissioned Officer or above, and must have a combat arms Military Occupational Specialty with one year of operational experience.
- Must complete JTAC primer course via MarineNet (distance online training).
- Must attend and graduate from either EWTGPAC or EWTGLANT TACP School.
Afghanistan National Army
The Afghan National Army (ANA) currently relies on coalition partners to raise and sustain it's FAC/JFO capability. The ANA capability, known as the Afghan Tactical Air Coordinator (ATAC) maintains a skill equivalency to that of a JFO. Australian JFOs have pioneered this capability within the ANA.
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- Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company
- Artillery observer
- Fire Support Team
- Forward Air Control Development Unit RAAF
- Joint terminal attack controller
- Tactical Air Control Party
- United States Air Force Combat Control Team
- "Joint Air Operations Interim Joint warfare Publication 3-30" (PDF). MoD. pp. 4–5.
CAS in defined as air action against targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces and require detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of these forces
- "Tactical air control: the job explained". London: The Daily Telegraph. 24 Aug 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
The primary role of the forward air controller is to direct combat strike aircraft onto enemy targets in support of ground troops.
- "Joint Air Operations Interim Joint warfare Publication 3-30" (PDF). MoD. pp. 4–5.
- "Training the RAF's eyes and ears". BBC. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
I ask if Prince Harry's deployment as a forward air controller, or what the Americans term a "JTAC" (joint tactical air controller or joint terminal attack controller), has boosted the number of volunteers for the job.
- Maj J Stallings (Jan 1968). "Close air Support and the Forward Observer" (PDF). Tactics Combined Arms Dep USAAMS.
- "DOD dictionary".
air interdiction DOD) Air operations conducted to divert, disrupt, delay, or destroy the enemy's military potential before it can be brought to bear effectively against friendly forces, or to otherwise achieve objectives. Air interdiction is conducted at such distance from friendly forces that detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of friendly forces is not required.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. pp. 20–21, 38–40. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- "Battle of Gorlice-Tarnow, 2-10 May 1915". Historyofwar.org. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. p. 21. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. pp. 70–74. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- Mosquitoes to Wolves: The Evolution of Airborne Forward Air Control. p. 7.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. pp. 149–150. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. p. 5. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- Matthew G. St. Clair, Major, USMC (February 2007). "The Twelfth US Air Force Tactical and Operational Innovations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, 1943–1944." (PDF). Air University Press Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
The use of forward air controllers (FAC) was another innovative technique employed during Operation Avalanche. FACs were first employed in the Mediterranean by the British Desert Air Force in North Africa but not by the AAF until operations in Salerno. This type of C2 was referred to as “Rover Joe” by the United States and “Rover David” or “Rover Paddy” by the British.
- Air power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe, 1943-45 Ian Gooderson p26
- Post, Carl A. (2006). "Forward air control: a Royal Australian Air Force innovation". Air Power History.
- "RAF & Army Co-operation" (PDF). Short History of the Royal Air Force. RAF. p. 147.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. p. 229. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack 1911 - 1945. pp. 181–182. ISBN 0-87474-452-0.
- Charles Pocock. "THE ANCESTRY OF FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS". Forward Air Controllers Association.
fundamental feature of the system was use of waves of strike aircraft, with pre-briefed assigned targets but required to orbit near the line of battle for 20 minutes, subject to Rover preemption and use against fleeting targets of higher priority or urgency. If the Rovers did not direct the fighter-bombers, the latter attacked their pre-briefed targets. US commanders, impressed by British at the Salerno landings, adapted their own doctrine to include many features of the British system, leading to differentiation of British "Rover David", US "Rover Joe" and British "Rover Frank" controls, the last applying air strikes against fleeting German artillery targets.[dead link]
- The Royal Air Force Air Power Review 6 (3), Autumn 2003, p. 87
- The Terminal Strike Controller: The Weak Link In Close Air Support. p. 8.
- The Royal Air Force Air Power Review: Volume 6, Number 3, Autumn 2003. pp. 87–88.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. p. 4. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- THE TERMINAL STRIKE CONTROLLER: THE WEAK LINK IN CLOSE AIR SUPPORT. pp. 8–9.
- "Hawker Typhoon".
By the end of June the Typhoon squadrons had relocated to France, allowing them to increase the speed with which they could respond to calls for assistance. A crucial development was the use of the “Cab Rank” or “Taxi Rank” system. This involved maintaining a standing patrol of Typhoons over the battlefield. Below them would be a Forward Air Controller, whose job it was to direct the Typhoons onto the most important target at any moment. Once a target was identified, a stream of Typhoons would descend on it.
- Ian Gooderson (1998). Air power at the battlefront. Taylor & Francis. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7146-4211-6.
- "Operation Overlord". MoD.
Fighter bombers began a new direct support role, operating with the assistance of radio-equipped Forward Air Controllers (FACs). The fighter bombers were on call from "Cab Ranks", orbiting points close to the forward edge of the battle area. From these Cab Ranks, the FACs could very quickly call on air support for any targets of opportunity or threats to the troops in their area. The FACs were both RAF and Army personnel, specially trained to identify targets to the pilots and direct their fire. Also, and seemingly almost permanently, airborne over the beachheads were the Air Observation aircraft. These light aircraft directed fire from naval vessels off-shore initially, before they began directing artillery fire once the regiments were established on land. The light aircraft of the Army were also were the first to operate as airborne FACs, directing the fighter bombers themselves.
- Post, Carl A. (2006). "Forward air control: a Royal Australian Air Force innovation". Air Power History.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. p. 2. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland. "Beginning the Fall Campaign in North Burma". United States Army Center of Military History.
Though artillery played a most valuable part in the North Burma Campaign, it could not always accompany troops penetrating behind the Japanese lines, and close air support was the only possible substitute. By May 1944 the Air Forces in Burma had worked out the technique of forward air control. This was exercised by a party of one or two officers plus six to eight enlisted men. They approved targets selected by the Army, called up air strikes by radio, and if necessary guided the aircraft to the target. On occasion, liaison aircraft would observe the strike. In some cases, aircraft were on target thirty minutes after the request was made. This was the system controlling close air support during the fall 1944 campaign.
- "Chindits – A Reappraisal" (PDF). Air Power Development Centre, CANBERRA.
The role of the officers (many of whom were Australian) was to arrange for air supply, and act as forward air controllers for Cochrane’s Mustang and Mitchell aircraft that provided the Special Force with close air support.
- Sebastian Ritchie. "RISING FROM THE ASHES: ALLIED AIR POWER AND AIR SUPPORT FOR THE 14th ARMY IN BURMA, 1943-1945" (PDF).
- Mosquitoes to Wolves: The Evolution of the Airborne Forward Air Controller. pp. 15–19. ISBN 1-58566-033-7.
- Pete Smith, 'Sidewinder 33/Drama 05, 19th TASS, 1967-68'. "RAAF FAC History". FAC Association.
During the Second World War the RAAF Order of Battle included several Army Co-operation Squadrons specializing in target identification and reconnaissance, and by war's end some experience had been gained with the Royal Air Force (RAF) liaison officers attached to British land formations in Europe and the Middle-East. Further experience was gained through working with the Mosquito FACs in Korea, and again during the long Malayan Emergency, where a limited number of RAAF officers were trained as ground FACs by the RAF.
- Bob Cossey. Upward and Onwards: Life of Air Vice-Marshal John Howe CB CBE AFC. Pen & Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-820-1.
He was posted to No 2 Squadron SAAF and sent to Korea to fly with South Africa's contribution to the war in support of the UN forces. There he flew the Mustang F-51D fighter-bombers in front-line action during his first tour. A second tour saw him with the US Infantry as a Forward Air Controller operating on the ground. As the political situation in South Africa became more extreme he resigned from the SAAF and came to England where he was asked by the RAF to fly their first jet fighters and later instruct on Vampires, converting later to the Hunter and joined 222 Squadron at Leuchars. During the Suez crisis he again operated as a Forward Ground Controller and landed on the beaches with 40 Commando.
- "Supporting Forces Pioneering Utilities".
The swan-song for the type was between January and December 1969 when a small number went to the Hunter-equipped No 20 Sqn which flew them on Forward Air Control missions in Borneo during the Indonesian confrontation. After this, the Pioneer passed out of RAF service, but continued in use with the air arms of Ceylon, Malaysia and Oman.
- "Mapping the coast of Mahra". The British-Yemeni Society.
e spent about a third of our time detached to Sharjah for the Jebel Akhdar Campaign, and another third doing forward air control (FAC) work up-country with the Aden Protectorate Levies. One day I was told that I was required for a FAC assignment in the Eastern Aden Protectorate (EAP), and that I was to be put ashore there from the survey ship HMS Owen.
- Winds of Destruction. Trafford Publishing. 2003. ISBN 978-1-4120-1204-1.
These specialists were also highly trained to conduct Forward Air Control(FAC) of strikes by bombers and fighter-bombers against enemy targets.
- "1946 to". MoD.
On 1 st September 1957 the AAC joined the Order of Battle of the army with the primary roles of providing support in the form of observation and reconnaissance, artillery fire control, limited movement of men and materials and liaison. A number of additional roles soon evolved such as Forward Air Control, radio relay, etc and the AAC soon established itself as an indispensable supporting arm.
- "8 Squadron History".
The Sqn pilots led a mobile life, spending only about a third of their time at Khormaksar. The rest was spent on detachment or up country with the army as Air Liaison Officers (ALO). This was for forward air control
- Gary Lester (August 1997). "Mosquitoes to Wolves The Evolution of the Airborne Forward Air Controller" (PDF). Air University Press Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
The first comprehensive airborne forward air controller program was developed in Korea. Initiated almost immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities, the program grew from a makeshift, very specialized operation to a large, generalized, highly successful program. Within six months, the concept of the airborne FAC had been proven and appropriate techniques had been formulated.
- The United States Air Force in Korea. p. 78.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. p. 8. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- Hit My Smoke: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. pp. 6–9. ISBN 0-89745-215-1.
- "The Leading N Book Site on the Net". nbook.com. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Factsheets : North American T-6D Mosquito". Nationalmuseum.af.mil. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Korean Air War. p. 22.
- The Korean War. p. 237.
- Mosquitoes to Wolves: The Evolution of the Airborne Forward Air Controller. p. 75. ISBN 1-58566-033-7.
- Mosquitos to Wolves: Evolution of the Airborne Forward Air Controller, Air University Press, August 1997, Gary Robert Lester,. p. 110.
- Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War. pp. 107, 131.
- "Factsheets : A Dangerous Business: Forward Air Control in Southeast Asia". Nationalmuseum.af.mil. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Factsheets : FAC in SEA: South Vietnam - "In-Country"". Nationalmuseum.af.mil. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- The History of the Airborne Forward Air Controller in Vietnam (PDF). pp. 55–56.
- "Factsheets : FAC in SEA: Forward Air Control Aircraft". Nationalmuseum.af.mil. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Battle of Longewala by Wing Commander Kukke Suresh". Bharat-rakshak.com. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "The Tribune - Windows - Featured story". Tribuneindia.com. 2000-12-16. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Rhodesian Air Force No 4 Squadron".
No 4 Squadron in conjunction with No 1 Squadron continued to work on airborne Forward Air Control (FAC) which had first been used in 1968.
- Kevin Douglas Stringer, John Adams Wickham (2006). Military organizations for homeland defense and smaller-scale contingencies. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-99308-5.
- "Flightglobal Archive".
- "Instalment 9 - The Bosbok".
- Morgan Norval. "Death in the Desert: The Namibian Tragedy". Selous Foundation Press, Washington DC. Archived from the original on 2009-10-26.
The air force spectacular pyrotechnics, notwithstanding, Bestbier had a problem which further delayed Juliet's assault. His forward air controller could not contact the aircraft because of problems with his radio. Juliet could not press home the attack until Bestbier was certain the air bombardment was over. The resulting five minute delay gave the SWAPO defenders time to recover their wits and man their defenses. This, no doubt, was a factor in stiffening their resistance when the attack finally began.
- Edward Alexander. "The Cassanga Raid" (PDF). University of South Africa.
- "NATO STANAG 3797 MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS & LASER OPERATORS IN SUPPORT OF FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS". NATO.
- "Forward Air Controllers (FAC)". Royal Air Force.
Outline Of Syllabus The students will be taught how to request, plan, brief and execute CAS operations both for Low Level and Medium/High Level operations. The student will have an introduction into night CAS techniques, Fire Support Co-ordination and Airspace Co-ordination. Subject to cat 2 Medicals, students will have the opportunity to experience CAS operations from the rear seat of a JFACTSU Hawk Aircraft. The syllabus includes EW, SEAD, Air C2 Attack methods and tactics, and weaponeering. On successful completion of the course the students will be qualified in Laser Target Marker Operators (LTMOs) and FAC Limited Combat Ready (LCR).
- "Training the RAF's eyes and ears". BBC News. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
In the bitter cold and wind of the North Yorkshire Moors, a group of soldiers, Royal Marines and others are learning how to call in air-strikes and become 'forward air controllers' on the front lines in Afghanistan.
- "Join as a Soldier". MoD.
GUNNER Obs Post as part of a Fire Support Team. Part of a tight knit six man team, working on the front line embedded in a manoeuvre unit. Trained to plan and coordinate fire from artillery, naval guns and mortars as well as control attack helicopters and fast jets. Kit includes image intensifiers, thermal sights, MSTAR man portable radar and UHF/VHF/HF radios. There are FSTs in all AS90 and Lt Gun Regts (inc Para and Cdo).
- "Specialist Qualifications". MoD.
608 Tactical Air Control Party, or 608 TACP as it is known in the Corps, is part of RMR Merseyside. Every TACP has four members, including one officer, whose role is described in the Forward Air Controller section. RMR Merseyside trains personnel at both the Manchester and Liverpool Detachments to be part of the TACP. The role of this very professional small team is to provide accurate descriptions and locations of targets, and indicate those targets using sophisticated LASER technology, to fast jets and other attack aircraft carrying a wide variety of weaponry.
- "The RAF Regiment - Experiences of a Forward Air Controller". Raf.mod.uk. 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "REVIEW OF UNITED KINGDOM MILITARY HELICOPTER LOW FLYING IN RESPONSE TO A RULE 43 LETTER FROM THE LOUTH AND SPILSBY CORONER" (PDF). MoD.
It is a vital component of anti-tank helicopter operations and is also used in a wide variety of supporting roles - Air Observation Post to direct Artillery fire, Airborne Forward Air Controller to direct ground-attack aircraft, casualty evacuation, liaison, and command and control, and communications relay.
- "British Army Vehicles and Equipment" (PDF).
It is a vital component of anti-tank helicopter operations and is also used in a wide variety of supporting roles: Air Observation Post (AOP) – to direct artillery fire; Airborne Forward Air Controller (ABFAC) – to direct ground-attack aircraft; casualty evacuation; liaison; command and control; and communications relay. It is equipped with a Ferranti AF 532 stabilised, magnifying observation aid.
- Gillan, Audrey (29 February 2008). "'I think this is as normal as I'm ever going to get'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
The prince had retrained as an FAC after being refused permission to fight in Iraq alongside the men he had led in his regiment as troop leader.
- Maj Brian T Koch (February 2007). "Evolution of ANGLICO". Marine Corps Gazette.
- "United States Marine Corps (USMC) Officer Job Descriptions".
Forward air controller/air officers direct and control close air support missions and advise commanders of ground units on matters pertaining to air support.
- "MARINE CORPS ORDER 1301.25B, ASSIGNMENT OF AVIATION OFFICERS AS FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS" (PDF).
6. Eligibility Criteria a. In accordance with reference (a), female Marine aviators will not be assigned to FAC duty.
- Rupert Pengelley (November 2008). "USMC proposes to train more squad leaders to act as FACs". International Defence Digest: 4.
- Mosquitoes to Wolves: The Evolution of the Airborne Forward Air Controller. Gary Robert Lester. Air University Press, 1987. ISBN 1-58566-033-7, ISBN 978-1-58566-033-9.
- Hit My Smoke!: Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia. Jan Churchill. Sunflower University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-89745-215-1, ISBN 978-0-89745-215-1.
- Strike from the Sky: the History of Battlefield Air Attack, 1911-1945. Richard Hallion. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. ISBN 0-87474-452-0, ISBN 978-0-87474-452-1.
- Korean Air War. Robert F. Dorr, Warren Thompson. Zenith Imprint, 2003. ISBN 0-7603-1511-6, ISBN 978-0-7603-1511-8.
- The United States Air Force in Korea 1950-1953. Robert F. Futrell. Duel, Sloan and Pearce, 1961.
- Misty, First Person Stories of the F-100 Misty Fast FAC in the Vietnam War. Shepperd, Don MGN. 2002. 1st Books Library. ISBN 0-7596-5254-6.
- Upward and Onward: Life of Air Vice-Marshal John Howe CB, CBE, AFC. Bob Cossey. Pen and Sword, 2009. ISBN 1-84415-820-9, ISBN 978-1-84415-820-1.
- Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War: Military Information You're Not Supposed to Know. James F. Dunnigan, Albert A. Nofi. Macmillan, 2000. ISBN 0-312-25282-X, 9780312252823.
- A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying With the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969. Jim Hooper. Zenith Imprint, 2009. ISBN 0-7603-3633-4, ISBN 978-0-7603-3633-5.
-  - Joint Publication 3-09.3 Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Close Air Support (CAS)
- He Runs An Air Force For Gravel Crunchers, Michael Amrine 1951 Popular Science article on Korean War FACs