055 – Forward Air Controllers

055 – Forward Air Controllers

Featured Guest
Retired US Navy Captain
David "Chili" Culpepper

Of the many facets of military aviation, perhaps no other is as consequential to the outcome of an armed conflict then the prosecution of ground targets. When those targets are in close proximity to friendly forces, detailed coordination is required between the ground commander and air assets to ensure the proper targets are attacked in an appropriate way. The conduit for that coordination is the JTAC, or Joint Terminal Attack Controller. An aviator filling this role is known as a Forward Air Controller, or FAC.

On this episode, retired US Navy Captain David “Chili” Culpepper joins us to describe nuances of being a FAC—drawing on his vast experiences piloting both the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18F Super Hornet as an airborne FAC, or FAC(A). Arguably the most difficult aerial mission aircrew perform, a FAC(A) must balance the availability of air assets with a dynamic and ever-changing ground situation and complex command and control, all while flying. This largely explains why US Navy and Marine FAC(A) missions are only flown in two-seat tactical aircraft where the mission chores can be divided between the crew.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine discuss what happens when a pilot is afflicted with Vertigo, reasons why the F-14 Tomcat was retired, duplicate aircrew callsigns, and favorite flight suit patches.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. Episode production by The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.