227th ASOS multinational TACP team trains with USAF F-16C and F-35A

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
German armed forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) made a second visit to the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) this year to train with their U.S. Air Force counterparts Oct. 25-28, 2016.

The NATO partners once again benefited from: the New Jersey Air National Guard ASOS unit's state of the art $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System, its co-location with the F-16 pilots and aircraft of the 119th Fighter Squadron, and the live combat air support (CAS) training available at the 177th Fighter Wing's Det. 1 Warren Grove Bombing Range (WGR).

U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel Roske, 227th ASOS Director of Operations, has been very aggressive in his efforts to provide effective training to meet German JTAC objectives.

"Helping to increase multinational cooperation between NATO partners is the objective," said Roske. "We try to give them as much exposure as possible, to a multitude of training opportunities, including CAS controlling with 5th generation fighters."

German armed forces JTAC, 1st Lt. Marius Sokol, noted some of the differences between CAS with European and American pilots regarding restrictions on attack profiles each of them fly. 

"U.S. JTACS let the pilots do their job," said Sokol. "In Europe we have more positive control than that. They teach us to make sure the pilot does this and that and then another procedure. In the U.S. you just want to get the effects on the ground...you just say, "I want these effects" and the pilot will do their job."

Although much of the equipment that JTACs from Germany and the U.S. use is similar, the restrictions on use during training can be very different.

"The laser designator is mostly the same, you just need to know how the switch buttons are different," said 1st Lt. Andreas Bier, German armed forces JTAC in the Pathfinder Platoon, Airborne Regiment 26. "We are much more restrictive using lasers. If we use the laser in the range in Germany, we use it inside a building or inside a hut and we have walls on each side of it."

After CAS training at WGR concluded, U.S. Air Force Capt. Keith Giamberardino, JTAC with the 227th, explained some of the procedural nuances of hearing, as well as using, specific words.

"If you hear the aircraft tell you they're doing something that's going to take extra time, respond by saying continue, not copy...copy just means I heard you," said Giamberardino. "Make sure that nothing's going to change in that minute of time that will make you tell the aircraft to abort or not give them clearance. "Continue" means, yes, it's going to be O.K., continue what you're doing, "Copy" just means yes, I heard you."

Sokol talked about another aspect of working in a coalition environment. "I think it's important to realize that you have a lot of F-16 and A-10 pilots that are qualified Airborne Forward Air Controllers and you don't have to tell a FAC-A pilot which attack profile he or she has to fly. It's a challenge for us and we have to know that this is a difference when you go on a mission and we have to switch in our minds a little when we work with U.S. pilots."

For follow-on training, Roske networked with the 6th Special Operations Squadron out of Duke Field, Florida, to give the Germans a chance to control U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter aircraft from various locations in Alabama and Florida.

"This road trip was unique in that we performed our training in civilian clothes, so as not to alarm the local populations," said Roske. "It was also a trip that turned professional, multinational relationships into lasting friendships."