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Posts Tagged ‘AFAC’

Forward air controller aircraft proposal revised

Posted by Picard578 on August 16, 2014

Historical lessons

Since UAVs are very bad at actual observation (except maybe as an inexpensive help for individual infantry platoons, controlled by those same platoons), this aircraft will also be manned. Aside from this concern, UAVs are also not adaptable.

First airborne FACs appeared during World War I. In that war, aircraft were employed for surveillance due to ground commander’s difficulties in interpreting the unfolding battlespace. First aircraft used had a crew of two, a pilot and an observer who would sketch the situation for the ground commander; information was later used to make battlefield maps, and aircraft also helped in directing artillery barrages. This led directly to development of CAS fighters and interceptors: some observers started dropping small bombs from aircraft on enemy positions or strafe trenches with guns, and both sides tried to prevent the enemy scouting.

Observations made were often inaccurate – strength of enemy formations could be misreported by thousands. However, information was provided far sooner by airborne observers than by other means, though development of CAS (and thus FAC) doctrine was being neglected in favor of failed strategic bombing deep behind enemy lines; only in 1917 did France and Germany realize its true value.

Interwar period led to the separation of FAC and CAS duties, since performing CAS often led to the FACs neglecting their primary duty. Only US Marine Corps, having no separate air service, was able to concentrate aircraft on CAS duties. And while World War II led to many (soon forgotten) improvements in carrying out CAS missions, appearance of airborne forward air controller had to wait until Korean war. While doctrine did permit use of airborne FAC in air-to-ground operations, there was no equipment allocated for such function, nor was any training undertaken specifically for the mission. Read the rest of this entry »

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