What Is A FAC?

Delta3

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I know it stands for Forward Air Controller, but what do they do and who are they?

Are they the people who paint the targets with lasers?
 

dragon

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They are sometimes on the ground, but they can also be in the air. Here in Afghanistan, we are using A-10s as an air FAC with good results.

In the Marines, they have their pilots do a FAC tour (spend a year or two) with a ground unit so that they can translate from grunt to airdale. It also provides a set of eyes near the target to make sure we don't hit our own guys.

Hope this helps - I'm sure there is a Marine Aviator or three who could explain it better!:)
 

Mud Eagle

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There are both ground-based FACs (GFAC) and flying FACs (AFACs) who can task bomb-droppers with targets.

How they do it really depends on what they have available and what systems are on the airplane.

For example, I was working with an Army GFAC last night on a range here in NC, and he was using a 2-step process to get us to put bombs on the correct target. First, we'd orbit about 20 miles from the target area and he'd pass a "9-line" briefing over the UHF radio, which basically tells us the general location of the target area in LAT/LONG, the FACs location, what kind of bombs he'd like us to drop, and what direction he'd like us to drop our ordnance.

Second, once we got into the target area, we flew in a giant circle around the target area while the GFAC used a hand-held laser to sparkle the target. Through NVGs, I could see specifically the vehicle or structure that he wanted me to drop bombs on.

While working with AFACs, typically A-10s, they'll give a similar 9-line brief, then either clear me in to drop bombs based on a visual target ID or mark the target with WP smoke rockets.
 

erj-145mech

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FAC's

In VietNam, the FAC's located targets, marked those targets, usually with a smoke or white phosphorous 2.75 rockets, call in the fighter/bombers or artillary, then perform a bomb damage assessment after the strike.

They started off by using O-1 Birdogs, were given O-2 Skymasters as an interim, because of the twin engine design and graduated to the OV-10 Bronco by the wars end.
 

zulua320

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Hey Mud Eagle,
There's no such thing as an "Army GFAC" -- you were talking to some poor Air Force SOB who's forced to live with the boys in green. The Army can't spell CAS, much less control it -- I should know, the longest decade of my life were the two years I spent as an ALO at Ft Hood.

Z
 

erj-145mech

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zulua320, my neighbor in Killeen was an ALO from Bergstrom at Ft Hood in the mid 70's, they had O-2's and rotated between ground and air. I think it was the 173nd TASS, not sure on the unit.

Dave
Continental Express MX
TYS
 

JimNtexas

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zulua320 said:
Hey Mud Eagle,
There's no such thing as an "Army GFAC" -- you were talking to some poor Air Force SOB who's forced to live with the boys in green. The Army can't spell CAS, much less control it -- I should know, the longest decade of my life were the two years I spent as an ALO at Ft Hood.

Z
I was also a Fort Hood ALO for two years (and that wasindeed a l-o-n-g two years). Before that I was ops officer at Pil Sung Range, Korea.

It's possible that Mud Eagle was being controlled by an Army type. Army Artillery Fire Control Officers often went through the ALO school, and some of those guys can control CAS.

At Pil Sung I personally trained all sorts of spooky people from all the services to do "emergency" forward air control.

It's certainly true that USAF ALOs/ETACS are the prefered controllers, but lots of other folks can get in on the act if they have to.

Fort Hood ruined me for camping.

Jim
 

zulua320

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Jim,
I was recently paroled from my two years, and the current rules were that Army types weren't "legal" controllers -- several of the arty and fwd observer types were introduce to "emergency CAS" controls, but when they were talking to live aircraft there was a qualified ALO or ETAC "over their shoulder" who was actually the controller of record (ie the guy who'd get fried if the bombs hit the wrong target).
Man, I was glad to put the Hood in the rear view mirror.

Z
 

AlbieF15

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Ditto "runined camping for me". I thought that observation was mine alone--I guess lots of former outdoorsmen have been worn down by the men in green. Back 89-91 I did a Reforger, a Hoenfels, a few local exercises, and WWKuwait. For some odd reason--I doubt I've spent a night in a tent (voluntarily) since. I grew up camping and enjoying the outdoors, but the "fire" for such activities has truely waned...

The US Army could make sex miserable.
 

Mud Eagle

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zulua320 said:
Hey Mud Eagle,
There's no such thing as an "Army GFAC" -- you were talking to some poor Air Force SOB who's forced to live with the boys in green. The Army can't spell CAS, much less control it -- I should know, the longest decade of my life were the two years I spent as an ALO at Ft Hood.
Z
Good point, and true. There was a group of folks which included an ALO, but the guy I was specifically working with was an Army guy. I've never been an ALO, so I don't know specifically how that whole situation works...
 
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