Joint terminal attack controller

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U.S. Air Force Combat Control JTACs from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron call for close air support during training with an A-10 Thunderbolt II
USAF TACP JTACs providing over watch and call in air support at Contingency Operating Post Jaghato, Afghanistan, May 1, 2010.

A Joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) is the term used in the United States Armed Forces and some other military forces for a qualified service member who directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other offensive air operations from a forward position. The term that is used in most other countries, as well as previously in the US and in the relevant NATO standard[1] is Forward Air Controller.[2] The term became effective in the US on September 3, 2003 with the publishing of Joint Publication (JP) 3-09.3 Close Air Support.[3]


In 2006, the Royal Australian Air Force became the first foreign air force to receive Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) accreditation from the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM).[4] No. 4 Squadron RAAF runs JTAC training, and provides trained controllers to other units, with its main role being to support the units of the Special Operations Command. JTAC-qualified personnel have served in Afghanistan.[5][6]

United States[edit]

In the United States Armed Forces a qualified and current joint terminal attack controller is recognized across the U.S. Department of Defense as being capable and authorized to perform terminal attack control.[citation needed]

United States Marine Corps students are trained at the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific (EWTGPAC), and Atlantic (EWTGLANT). United States Air Force students receive their training at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, while United States Navy students are trained at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada by SEALs assigned to NSAWC. Members of special operations units attend the Special Operations Terminal Attack Control Course (SOTACC) at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.[citation needed]

Air Force JTACS also trained at Spangdahlem Air Base, in Germany, through the Joint Firepower Center of Excellence (JFCOE).[7]


Italy has qualified JTAC operators in its tier 1, 2 and 3 teams. Some of these operators have served in Afghanistan, as part of TF45. During the Afghanistan War, AMX ground attack aircraft from the Italian Air Force TF BLACK CATS conducted Close Air Support with JTAC operators on the ground provided by the Italian Army, the Carabinieri, and the Navy and Air Force.[8] The equipment used by Italian JTAC operators is not well publicized, although the equipment used by 185 RRAO has been briefly reported on.[9] The training areas used by Italian JTACs are also kept secret. It has been reported that Italian JTACs will potentially work with the newest gunship, the MC-27J Praetorian in the future.[10]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Training the RAF's eyes and ears". BBC. February 14, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 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. 
  3. ^ Lieutenant Colonel Steven P. Milliron, Army Aviation. "Army JTAC training--the way ahead.". U.S. Field Artillery Association. Effective 3 September 2003 with the publishing of Joint Publication (JP) 309.3 Tactics. Techniques and Procedures (TTP) for Close Air Support, the joint community codified the requirements for an individual to direct the actions of combat aircraft engaged in CAS and other air operations. This position, called a "joint terminal attack controller" was created to standardize the certification and qualification process for terminal attack controllers to ensure a common capability across the services. The Army needs to develop Soldiers who, from a forward position, can deliver joint indirect fires and direct the actions of joint combat aircraft. The Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) is the official designation used by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence for the F-35 Lightning II, formerly known as the Joint Strike Fighter, and the result of the Joint Strike Fighter competition. 
  4. ^ Defence Magazine, June 2006[dead link]
  5. ^ Allard, Tom (March 17, 2008). "New squadron will aim to cut civilian deaths". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 19, 2008. 
  6. ^ Air Power Development Centre (June 2014). "Combat Control in the RAAF". Pathfinder Issue 224. Royal Australian Air Force. 
  7. ^ "Joint Multinational Warriors". 7th U.S. Army Joint Multinational Training Command. Winter 2007. The Joint Fires Center of Excellence exists to train Army and Air Force forward observers and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. [dead link]
  8. ^ Janez. "Task Force 45". Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Home - 185 RRAO". 185 RRAO. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "MC-27J Praetorian - Alenia Aermacchi". Retrieved November 7, 2014. 

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