Since the Iraq insurgency began, the U.S. Air Force has been looking for ways to use its planes to fight roadside bombs. Electronic warriors like the EC-130H Compass Call jam frequencies used to set off explosives. Drones patrol highways, looking for new, suspicious mounds along the road. Sometimes they even take out the bomb-planters.Inside Defense reveals another Air Force tactic: Using ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft "to help coalition units round up insurgent cells believed to manufacture lethal improvised explosive devices."
Military officials -- working backward using surveillance video -- were able to successfully trace IED placers moves using targeting pods and ISR aircraft like the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), Lt. Col. Clint Hinote said during a Nov. 21 telephone interview...[T]he Air Force has used its surveillance assets to find insurgent IED makers, as opposed to solely working to find or disarm the deadly devices, Hinote said...You can have a security camera in the sky, he said. We actually have aircraft that have that capability of just taking shots of whats going on.After IEDs detonate in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, Air Force ISR officials begin marking tapes of radar sweeps in an attempt to pinpoint the explosion, he said. They then essentially rewind the tapes, trying to discover any movements in the specific area prior to the blast.Maybe you can find the car that was involved and backtrack it to a certain house, Hinote said. Weve got several ISR assets that right now are working on this backtracking plan.Thats actually led to a couple of good successes where weve rounded up some IED cells, he added.The ultimate goal is to track the IED maker to a bomb-making equipment storage location -- and then even further back, Hinote said.