HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Sarah Hernandez, a 49th Operations Support Squadron operator, calls out to the pilot, “good spot, good spot.”
Her voice fills the range operations center Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.
The pilot acknowledges and goes kinetic.
Another ordnance is on target. Another mission is successful.
The range operations center, or ROC, is manned 20 hours a day, and sometimes during the weekend to assist student pilots with putting bombs on target. They also score how close the ordnance impacted the intended target.
“Across all branches, pilots come and train on ranges here and work with us for getting bombs on target,” said William Urick, the 49th Operations Support Squadron range manager. “Red Rio, Oscura and Centennial are primary training ranges operated by Holloman AFB. On the range over 600,000 munitions are used annually. These munitions can range from 7.62 millimeter rounds to 2,000 pound inert bombs.”
Once the pilot begins transmission to the ROC, the pilot and operator lock onto a laser board, and the operator gives point directions until the pilot is sighted in on the laser board. The pilot’s sights are now zeroed in and should have an on-target impact.
“When we tell the pilot they have a ‘good spot,’ we wait for the que to drop munitions on an intended target,” said Hernandez. “Once the ordnance has been dropped, we wait a few seconds for the moment of impact and take the coordinates of the impact, target and aircraft. The coordinates are then triangulated, and we give the pilot their score.”
Operators work with pilots and student pilots from a variety of airframes. Pilots receive realistic training of what they could or will encounter when flying real world missions. Training missions could be searching for a specific target on any of the ranges, to strafing runs. In April, 595 sorties developed their craft through the ROC.
“Providing score sheets to the student pilots helps them learn their equipment better,” Hernandez said. “When the time comes, they are prepared with the right tools to be an effective war fighter.”