May 29, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon provided close air support to ground troops fighting to recover two slain helicopter crewmen in the vicinity of Baquba, Iraq, on May 26, officials said.
The ground troops had to battle terrorist insurgents while performing search-and-recovery operations. The F-16 reportedly suppressed enemy small-arms fire by dropping a laser-guided "guided bomb unit-12" bomb.
An Air Force joint tactical attack controller was embedded with the Army ground units. This enabled the ground units to communicate with the F-16, ultimately directing the pilot to the impact point of the bomb, officials said.
A U.S. Air Force Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle also provided full-motion video surveillance of the area and ongoing operations.
"Supporting coalition forces on the ground is our number-one priority," said British Royal Air Force Air Commodore Simon Bryant, director of the Combined Air Operations Center.
"On any given day," he explained, "the coalition air component flies more than 100 sorties. (The Component) provides any mix of close air support, intra-theater airlift, tanker missions and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- all in support of ground operations."