British JTACs, pilots train like they fight


[British army Sgt. (Tech. Sgt.) Lee Scaramuzza, 29th Commando Regiment joint terminal attack controller, and British army Sgt. Maj. (Master Sgt.) Gareth Thomas, 20th Armored Brigade JTAC instructor, identify targets for A-10C Thunderbolt IIs at Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range, Ga., May 8, 2012. Pilots and JTACs regularly train with units from around the world that they might work with while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel)]

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- The sound of 30 mm guns from Moody A-10s ring through the air over Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range almost daily. However, it's not every day these pilots are guided to their targets by British joint terminal attack controllers.

Five British service members trained with Moody A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots, May 6 to 10, with the goal to train like they fight, and strengthen the relationship between these international forces.


[An A-10C Thunderbolt II uses its 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun to strafe a target at Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range, Ga., May 8, 2012. JTACs frequently work with A-10s, which are dedicated close air support aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel)]

"We are currently fighting in a NATO conflict, so we cannot operate on our own," said British army Sgt. Maj. (Master Sgt.) Gareth Thomas, 20th Armored Brigade JTAC instructor. "Most of the aircraft we use downrange are from the U.S. Air Force and Navy. It's important we train with them here so we can understand the different capabilities. We also come out here to maintain our current qualifications as JTACs."

The JTACs and pilots each have their own training requirements, and together they coordinate these to get the most of their time spent on the range. At Grand Bay, the JTACs directed the pilots as they swooped in to strafe and bomb designated targets on the ground.

"It is a great experience to actually meet these pilots and crews so we can better plan our training," said Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant (Capt.) Richard May, 1st Armored Division master JTAC. "Here, we get the opportunity to brief, develop, plan and execute our training with the pilots. We are grateful for the chance to train here, and how we have been received."


[British army Sgt. (Tech. Sgt.) Lee Scaramuzza, 29th Commando Regiment joint terminal attack controller, reads target information as British army Sgt. (U.S. Army Staff Sgt.) Neil Clarke, 29th Commando Regiment JTAC, uses a Laser Rangefinder 28 (LF28) to mark a target for an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range, Ga., May 8, 2012. The LF28 emits an infrared laser, which helps guide bombs to their target. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel)]

Two U.S. Army personnel assigned to Moody help coordinate training between pilots and JTACs from around the world.

"We work with international forces a lot while deployed, so it is important to work out the kinks here," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Schmitt, 357th Field Artillery Detachment ground liaison officer.

"Grand Bay is a live control range, which means they can actually use bombs and ammunition. In other countries the ranges are usually smaller and have more restrictions."

The British service members also trained at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., with Navy aircraft during their trip to the U.S.

[Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant (Capt.) Richard May, 1st Armored Division master joint terminal attack controller, records communications between the aircraft and JTACs at Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range, Ga., May 8, 2012. The JTACs write down target data and other information, such as landmarks, to help themselves and pilots properly identify targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel)]

Combined, joint training is important because the pilots they work with during training could be the same pilots on the other end of their radio when they go downrange.