Air National Guard Holds First Maritime Exercise

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Tactical Air Control Party Members (TACP) and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) from Syracuse, New York participated in a first-of-its-kind Joint Maritime Operations exercise recently on Lake Ontario. The exercise was in conjunction with members from the 152nd Air Operations Group (AOG), the 174th Fighter Wing MQ-9 Formal Training Unit (FTU), the New York Naval Militia, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Oswego, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The exercise is believed to be the first time that an ASOS unit has conducted joint training operations with a remotely piloted aircraft in a maritime setting. The objective of the 274th was to determine the extent that their communications equipment, well-adapted to land-based interfacing, could maintain functionality over water, and to further define what value-added resources an ASOS could contribute to a maritime operation.

A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has demonstrated the versatility of the ASOS community in executing its primary mission of close-air support (CAS) and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The incorporation of TACPs and JTACs into maritime operations is in keeping with the 274th's commitment to broaden its scope of contributions to joint operations.

Two scenarios were encountered over the three-day exercise. The first involved a simulated counter-piracy operation in which JTACs controlled a MQ-9 Reaper while aboard a Coast Guard vessel, the mission being to find, fix, track, and simulate a precision-guided munition (PGM) attack on hostile targets ashore and afloat. "We met our objectives and soundly demonstrated the advantages of having JTACs integrated into maritime operations," said Staff Sgt. Shane Cutlip, a 274th ASOS JTAC.

The second scenario involved a search-and-rescue of a downed pilot; the JTACs providing the Coast Guard crew with full-motion video of the downed pilot, transmitted from the MQ-9. "The integration of the MQ-9 and Coast Guard search and rescue crews will dramatically reduce the time required to respond to vessels or personnel in distress on Lake Ontario," said Maj. Patrick Cox, 274th ASOS Commander.

The growth of maritime operations will necessitate the further integration of air and naval assets. The 274th ASOS is determined to be fully prepared to participate in that transition.

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