Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998 Page: 12
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"I truly believe the Block 40 Vipers sitting on the
ramp here are the most combat capable fighters ever
fielded," says Lt. Col. David Nichols, the commander of
the 510th. "We fly some unique missions from Aviano.
We regularly perform Deliberate Guard missions over
Bosnia with live weapons, including precision-guided
munitions, air-to-air missiles, and rockets."
Those Deliberate Guard missions go a long way
in explaining the level of capability found in Aviano's
"I don't think our flights over Bosnia are going to
stop any time soon," Nichols admits. "They are a strain,
but we are proud of what we are accomplishing over
there. Air presence is required to enforce sanctions
and to return the region to stability. We use air power
and jet noise, the threat of what these airplanes can do,
to further a peace process. When pilots come back
from a Deliberate Guard mission, they can tell the
weapon loaders and the maintainers that what we are
doing over Bosnia is making a difference. We may not
be dropping or shooting anything right now, but the
fact that armed F-16s are flying overhead enhances the
ability of peacekeeping forces on the ground."
The F-16 missions over the former Yugoslavia have
evolved from Deny Flight missions that enforced a
no-fly zone to the highly successful precision bombing
campaign of Deliberate Force to the current ground
support missions of Deliberate Guard.
These days, Nichols and his fellow F-16 pilots at
Aviano fly a variety of close air support missions over
Bosnia, exercising what has become a highly refined
CAS network. The network includes satellite recon-
naissance, airborne warning and control, and ground-
based tactical air control parties. The latter, called
TACPs (pronounced TACK peas), are assigned to
Army ground units and consist of one air control offi-
cer and three to four enlisted controllers, often from a
variety of countries. They operate with four primary
pieces of equipment: a laser targeting system, a global
positioning system, a laptop computer, and a radio.
"We communicate with TACPs on the ground from
the cockpit," Nichols explains. "They guide us onto
real targets, using the improved data modem that is
part of our Sure Strike system. Though we don't drop
bombs, practice or real, those on the ground in Bosnia
know we can take care of a target or deliver munitions
at any time, on short notice, at day or at night.
Our capability is tremendous. We have developed a
CAS request network, and our TACP and aircrew
proficiency is very high.
"All operations flown over the former Yugoslavia
benefit from an advanced intelligence system that
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Lockheed Martin Astronautics (Firm). Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998, periodical, January 1998; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1023905/m1/14/: accessed April 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth.