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    Iraqi Airpower enhanced through GCI course

    Iraqi Airpower enhanced through GCI course

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman | U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marcell “Solo” Wright, 370th Air Expeditionary Advisor...... read more read more

    It’s no secret a fighter jet moves pretty fast. With a cruising speed of 400+ mph, a pilot flying this sophisticated technology must evaluate a constant stream of information at a rate rivaled only by the aircraft itself.

    Add an unidentified aircraft into the mix and you have a situation that calls for an additional set of eyes.

    Combining multiple radars with off-board sensors gathered from multiple sources strategically located across the battlespace, Ground Control Intercept has the skillset to direct different airborne platforms as they intercept unknown flying targets in an air to air environment. These capabilities and procedures fall under the Command and Control Battle Management Operations career field.

    “We specialize in driving tactics, techniques and procedures while prioritizing weapons, sensors and fuel during composite force operations,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronnie “Armor” Saldana, 370th Air Expeditionary Advisor Squadron GCI air advisor. “Additionally, we are responsible for communicating information not only in the battlespace but throughout different echelons of authority for informed decisions to be made to best achieve desired effects and the commander’s intent.”

    That responsibility does not only pertain to fighter jets as GCI provides coverage for all joint and coalition platforms across several mission sets.

    “When most people think of controlling aircraft, their first thoughts might be that of the Air Traffic Control tower, Radar Approach Control, or the Airborne Warning And Control System,” Saldana explained. “It’s true the AWACS provides increased coverage and sensor capabilities but the Control and Reporting Center can complement or provide a fused common operational picture with their organic radars and off-board sensors as a self-sustaining ground based command and control node. Separately we are highly proficient, but together we create a highly capable battle management ability in the battle space.”

    It is at the CRC where a GCI specialist combines the radar data with gathered intelligence to confidently aid the responding pilot in ensuing actions. The job requires precise communication and a lot of practice which is why Saldana and three other GCI air advisors are here extending their knowledge and expertise to their Iraqi counterparts.

    “Becoming an air advisor has provided me with a rare opportunity to utilize my years of training, experience and technical knowledge to help build a critical skillset with our colleagues in the Iraqi Air Defense Command,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marcell “Solo” Wright, 370th AEAS GCI air advisor. “GCI isn’t a foreign concept to the Iraq military but performing the tasks in an ever-changing, flexible battlespace required a particular skillset that they were eager to learn the moment we began to teach.”

    Using a digital simulator and an instructor acting as the responding pilot, the Iraqi students must continuously provide correct verbal commands as they react in real time to friendly and enemy aircraft moving around in the screen-displayed airspace. The goal of an intercept is to position the pilot behind the threat to avoid being in an unfavorable angle which could put the interceptor within firing range.

    This level of problem solving and communication requires a vast knowledge of aviation nomenclature which remembering all would be no small feat, let alone in a different language.

    “Throughout my time here teaching the Advanced GCI Course as well as teaching the Advanced Instructor Course, seeing our Iraqi counterparts thirst for knowledge and strive to be the best has been extremely rewarding,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. James “Stewie” Stewart, 370th AEAS GCI air advisor. “We ask them to learn another new language on top of Arabic and English and that is the language of Air Force Communications Standards. The document alone is 111 pages long.”

    Barriers like cultural and language differences are obstacles both sides are eager to overcome as they look ahead to the endgame.

    “The future of the IqADC GCI is extremely bright,” Stewart said. “My hope is that the six initial instructor students will grow other Iraqi Air Defense Controllers’ abilities and continue integration with the 9th Fighter Squadron F-16IQs.”

    It will be the new wave of IqADC GCI students who will be communicating with their fighter jets as they directly contribute to Iraqi airpower by defending their borders and securing their homeland.



    Date Taken: 05.23.2019
    Date Posted: 07.26.2019 08:37
    Story ID: 333139
    Location: IQ

    Web Views: 50
    Downloads: 1