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Forward air controller (FAC)

Definition A Forward Air Controller (FAC) is a trained and qualified individual who is responsible for coordinating the support of close air support (CAS) to ground forces. From a forward position, they identify enemy targets and communicate their locations to attack aircraft. They also oversee the delivery of the aerial attack, ensuring its precision to […]

Definition

A Forward Air Controller (FAC) is a trained and qualified individual who is responsible for coordinating the support of close air support (CAS) to ground forces. From a forward position, they identify enemy targets and communicate their locations to attack aircraft. They also oversee the delivery of the aerial attack, ensuring its precision to avoid friendly fire.

Key Takeaways

  1. Forward Air Controller (FAC) refers to a qualified individual who is stationed in a forward ground or airborne position, tasked with directing the action of combat aircraft engaging enemy targets in close proximity to friendly forces.
  2. They play a crucial role in coordinating air support, often during high-risk operations in combat zones, ensuring the safety of friendly forces and maximizing the impact on enemy targets.
  3. FACs require extensive training to effectively communicate with pilots, understand the battlefield dynamics, and interpret the rules of engagement to prevent friendly fire or collateral damage.

Importance

A Forward Air Controller (FAC) plays a crucial role in military operations due to their responsibility in coordinating and directing air support for ground troops.

They are essentially the pivotal link between aviation and ground forces, essential for maintaining efficient communication and implementing strategic maneuvers during combat.

Their duties involve accurately identifying enemy positions, ensuring the safety of non-combatants, coordinating attack timings, and providing precise instructions to attack aircraft.

Therefore, the FAC’s role significantly contributes to minimizing collateral damage, enhancing combat operation effectiveness, and ultimately ensuring the success of military missions.

Explanation

A Forward Air Controller (FAC) plays a crucial role in military operations, primarily serving as the coordination link between ground troops and air support. Their fundamental purpose is to ensure accuracy and effectiveness in air strikes, with an ultimate goal of reducing friendly fire or collateral damage.

They are usually based at strategic positions on the ground or within an aircraft above the operational area, where they can have a clear overview of the battlefield. By directing the actions of combat aircraft engaged in close air support (CAS) to ground troops, the FAC helps to shape the battle’s results by influencing the placement, timing, and strength of air power.

The FAC’s role may involve various activities, such as identifying enemy targets, determining their location, and communicating this vital information to attack pilots. They also provide detailed situational updates and warnings regarding terrain, weather, or enemy defenses, and may even control the exact moment an aircraft releases its weapons for maximum impact.

Furthermore, post-strike, FACs evaluate the effectiveness of the attack, noting any necessary adjustments for future strikes. To fulfill this demanding role, FACs require extensive training not only in aircraft weapon systems, but also in ground tactics, maps, and communication equipment, which makes them a pivotal component in modern warfare.

Examples of Forward air controller (FAC)

Operation Rolling Thunder (Vietnam War) – During the Vietnam War, the Forward Air Control (FAC) was crucial for Operation Rolling Thunder, which was a sustained aerial bombardment campaign conducted by the United States. This operation relied heavily on FACs, who piloted slow-moving light aircraft over enemy regions to locate potential targets and direct fighter bombers to those targets.

Operation Desert Storm (Gulf War) – In the 1991 Gulf War, Forward Air Controllers were used extensively during Operation Desert Storm. They coordinated precision airstrikes against enemy targets in Iraq and Kuwait, contributing significantly to the success of these operations and reducing the risk of civilian and friendly losses.

Operation Anaconda (War in Afghanistan) – During Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2002, FACs were tasked with identifying and designating targets for air strikes in the mountainous regions of Eastern Afghanistan, where regular ground forces couldn’t easily reach. They played a critical role in the operation by providing real-time information on enemy locations and coordinating air support, helping to neutralize enemy positions and providing cover for ground units.

Forward Air Controller (FAC) FAQ

What is a Forward Air Controller (FAC)?

A Forward Air Controller (FAC) is a qualified individual who, from a forward ground or airborne position, directs and controls aircraft engaging ground targets.

What is the main role of a Forward Air Controller (FAC)?

The main role of a Forward Air Controller (FAC) is to oversee and manage air strikes and air-to-ground operations, ensuring accuracy and safety.

What kind of training does a Forward Air Controller (FAC) receive?

Training for a Forward Air Controller (FAC) includes learning tactical air control, air navigation, communications, and combat survival. They are also trained in various types of aircraft and weapons systems.

Where does a Forward Air Controller (FAC) operate?

A Forward Air Controller (FAC) can operate from a variety of settings, which can range from ground positions to aircraft such as helicopters and high-speed jets.

How does a Forward Air Controller (FAC) co-ordinate with other military operations?

A Forward Air Controller (FAC) coordinates closely with ground commanders and aircrew, using real-time communication and data links to manage air missions. They are pivotal in aligning air support with ground operations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Airborne Forward Air Controller (AFAC)
  • Close Air Support (CAS)
  • Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)
  • Tactical Air Control Party (TACP)
  • Spotter Aircraft

Sources for More Information

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