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FastFAC or FastDAC?

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Research paper

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Currently, the Marine Corps employs the FA-18D as a fast forward air controller, or FastFAC, to control strike aircraft. The term FastFAC emerged from Vietnam and merely referred to the speed provided by jet engines when compared to the turboprop engines of slower observation aircraft. However, beyond the Fire Support Coordination Line FSCL, the FastFAC does not control CAS like a typical Ground FAC. This is because there are no friendly forces on the ground. Instead, the FastFAC controls interdiction sorties dedicated to shaping the battlefield for future operations. Therein lies the argument in the FastFAC designation, the FAC portion is a misnomer, for it implies that ordnance is being delivered from CAS aircraft in close proximity to Marines on the ground. Thus, I have coined the non-doctrinal term FastDAC, for fast deep air controller. My FastDAC will define a tactical jet controlling interdiction aircraft beyond the FSCL. Though it was not labeled as such, the FastDAC first proved to be relevant in Vietnam and absolutely vital in Operation Desert Storm. However, during these conflicts, FastDAC was conducted on the fly, because neither the Marine Corps nor the Air Force possessed adequate doctrine. Because the role was not defined, the lack of doctrine made training for the mission an impossibility. Thus, this article will argue three contentions. First, U.S. aviation forces relegated the FastFAC mission to tactical jets doing on-the-job training OJT during Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm. Second, the Marine Corps must embrace the concept of VMFNA squadrons conducting FastDAC. Lastly, the Marine Corps lack of doctrine is setting the stage for the Joint Strike Fighter JSF to potentially do FastDAC OJT on the future battlefield. OJT will fail to keep pace with the tempo of operations in 2010.

Subject Categories:

  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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