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47 FS supports Army troops on ground

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A terrorist cell has been located. The Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller assigned to the Army Battalion calls the A-10 Thunderbolt orbiting overhead with target coordinates description and location of friendly. The pilot verifies the target information and the next radio call from the JTAC is "cleared hot" followed by a loud explosion and the target disintegrates.

This is a typical scenario for Air Force A-10 squadrons and the embedded Air National Guard Support Operations Squadron personnel working jointly with the Army during wartime operations.

The 917th Reserve Wings 47th Fighter Squadron along with the 5th and 116th Air Support Operations Squadrons and Army personnel trained at the Yakima Range with live munitions, Aug. 6-11 for Operation Patriot Knife. The 47th flew out of McChord AFB, Wash., to support the training scenarios at the army firing range on Fort Lewis, some miles to the southwest of McChord.

"Close air support is all about putting Air Force fire power where the Army needs it," said Lt. Col. James Macaulay, 47th Fighter Squadron commander. "Whenever the Army goes to war, the JTAC goes with them."

"Dropping bombs on target is what we do," said Staff Sgt. Ken Hill, 116 ASOS Tactical Air Controller. "Our main job is to provide the Army with the ins and outs of the aircraft and how it can support them." This coordination not only keeps the Army from shooting down our aircraft, it directs the aircraft to drop munitions on the right location to support the Army operations.

"It takes roughly three months to coordinate a training exercise that requires a live load allocation like this," said Senior Master Sgt. John Kennedy, Detachment 1, Washington ANG host. The A-10s delivered 30mm rounds from the Gatling gun, dropped rockets and 500 and 2000 lb bomb at Yakima range.

The 47th has been deploying to Washington since the early 90s for this very type of training where they not only perform flying operations but their own maintenance and bomb building.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Foerman, 717th Munitions Production supervisor, bomb building of this magnitude is not common for an Air Mobility Command base such as McChord where they have C-17 cargo/ troop transport aircraft.

"The air to ground munitions is not a daily experience here at McChord," said Master Sgt. Randall Robinett, 62d Munitions Flight chief. "Many times our guys have to deploy in support of the war where they need to support fighters and bombers. This is good proficiency training for them."

The Munitions Flight worked jointly with the active duty to build all the munitions for this exercise, giving the Airmen an opportunity to build weapons that are required for war tasking. Over 180,000 lbs of munitions were built and dropped during the training scenarios. The exercise was created to mirror operations taking place in the many war zones we are currently fighting in.

"Joint training exercises between the JTACs, Army Fire Support Officers, and the A-10 units are what make us the best close air support team in the world," said Lt. Col. Brady Glick, Patriot Knife project officer.