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274th Air Support Operations Squadron Conducts First-Ever Joint Maritime Exercise

Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York use global positioning satellite and other communications equipment aboard a U.S. Coast Guard cutter during a training operation on Lake Ontario on June 18, 2012.  The communications equipment enabled the Airmen to talk directly with the aircrew of a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) from the 174th Fighter Wing as well as view feeds directly from the aircraft in real time. This was a first-of-its-kind joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard, N.Y. Naval Militia and the 174th Fighter Wing to train in different maritime operations involving the MQ-9. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call/Released)

Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York use global positioning satellite and other communications equipment aboard a U.S. Coast Guard cutter during a training operation on Lake Ontario on June 18, 2012. The communications equipment enabled the Airmen to talk directly with the aircrew of a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) from the 174th Fighter Wing as well as view feeds directly from the aircraft in real time. This was a first-of-its-kind joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard, N.Y. Naval Militia and the 174th Fighter Wing to train in different maritime operations involving the MQ-9. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call/Released)

New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jason Hancock (foreground right) from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York instructs Airmen from the 274th on various communications equipment at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Oswego on June 18, 2012.  The communications equipment was used during training missions on Lake Ontario where the 274th worked with a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft out of Hancock Field.  This was a joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard, N.Y. Naval Militia and the 174th Fighter Wing to train in different maritime rescue operations where an RPA could assist. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call/Released)

New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jason Hancock (foreground right) from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York instructs Airmen from the 274th on various communications equipment at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Oswego on June 18, 2012. The communications equipment was used during training missions on Lake Ontario where the 274th worked with a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft out of Hancock Field. This was a joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard, N.Y. Naval Militia and the 174th Fighter Wing to train in different maritime rescue operations where an RPA could assist. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call/Released)

Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York set up communications equipment at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Oswego on June 18, 2012.  The communications equipment enabled the Airmen to talk with the aircrew of a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) from the 174th Fighter Wing as well as view feeds directly from the aircraft in real time. The Airman were participating in a first-of-its-kind joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard, N.Y. Naval Militia and the 174th Fighter Wing to train in different maritime rescue operations where an RPA could assist. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call/Released)

Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York set up communications equipment at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Oswego on June 18, 2012. The communications equipment enabled the Airmen to talk with the aircrew of a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) from the 174th Fighter Wing as well as view feeds directly from the aircraft in real time. The Airman were participating in a first-of-its-kind joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard, N.Y. Naval Militia and the 174th Fighter Wing to train in different maritime rescue operations where an RPA could assist. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call/Released)

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- Tactical Air Control Party Members (TACP) and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) from Syracuse, New York participated in a first-of-its-kind Joint Maritime Operations exercise on 18-20 June 2012 on Lake Ontario in conjunction with members from the 152nd Air Operations Group (AOG), the 174th Fighter Wing MQ-9 Formal Training Unit (FTU), the New York Naval Militia, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Oswego, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The exercise is believed to be the first time that an ASOS unit has conducted joint training operations with a remotely piloted aircraft in a maritime setting. The objective of the 274th was to determine the extent that their communications equipment, well-adapted to land-based interfacing, could maintain functionality over water, and to further define what value-added resources an ASOS could contribute to a maritime operation.

A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has demonstrated the versatility of the ASOS community in executing its primary mission of close-air support (CAS) and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The incorporation of TACPs and JTACs into maritime operations is in keeping with the 274th's commitment to broaden its scope of contributions to joint operations.

Two scenarios were encountered over the three-day exercise. The first involved a simulated counter-piracy operation in which JTACs controlled a MQ-9 Reaper while aboard a Coast Guard vessel, the mission being to find, fix, track, and simulate a precision-guided munition (PGM) attack on hostile targets ashore and afloat. "We met our objectives and soundly demonstrated the advantages of having JTACs integrated into maritime operations," said Staff Sgt. Shane Cutlip, a 274th ASOS JTAC.

The second scenario involved a search-and-rescue of a downed pilot; the JTACs providing the Coast Guard crew with full-motion video of the downed pilot, transmitted from the MQ-9. "The integration of the MQ-9 and Coast Guard search and rescue crews will dramatically reduce the time required to respond to vessels or personnel in distress on Lake Ontario," said Maj. Patrick Cox, 274th ASOS Commander.

The growth of maritime operations will necessitate the further integration of air and naval assets. The 274th ASOS is determined to be fully prepared to participate in that transition.