Iraq’s Kingpin

With the increasing demand for close air support for troops on the ground, the airmen with the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron at Balad AB, Iraq, work to make certain the right aircraft are over the target areas. USAF journalist SrA. Bryan Franks reports that the “Kingpin” squadron, comprising 170 airmen of varying career fields, is a radar control and identification unit responsible for identifying all aircraft flying in the 270,000 square miles of airspace over Iraq. Deployed in three locations, the air controllers create a real-time air picture that the Combined Air Operations Center uses to keep control of tactical air assets. Kingpin operators work directly with the CAOC to send in aircraft to assist troops in contact with an enemy force.