Air Controllers Take to the Water

Tactical air control party members from the New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron in Syracuse, operating from the deck of a Coast Guard vessel, recently directed an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft on maritime sorties during an exercise on Lake Ontario, announced unit officials July 16. They said they believed this exercise was the first time that an ASOS unit conducted joint training operations with an RPA in a maritime setting. “We met our objectives and soundly demonstrated the advantages of having joint terminal attack controllers integrated into maritime operations,” said SSgt. Shane Cutlip, a JTAC with the squadron. The controllers experimentally employed land-purposed equipment to guide the MQ-9 from the Air Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse on search and rescue and counterpiracy tasks over the lake. They designated a pirate vessel for a simulated precision strike, and provided the Coast Guard crew with live streaming video from the Reaper to help locate a simulated victim in a separate scenario. The exercise took place on June 18. (Hancock Field report by MSgt. Kevin Colbert)