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USAF Combat Controllers (CCT)

Combat Control Technicians (CCT) of US Air Force Special Tactics Squadrons are highly proficient in the following:

  • air traffic control
    Combat Controllers are trained to covertly insert, mark out landing zones (for helicopters) or ad hoc landing strips (for fixed wing aircraft) or parachute drop zones, then guide air assets in and out. This is their primary role.
  • joint terminal attack control (JTAC)
    CCTs are capable of calling in fire from aircraft such as fast moving jets, attack helicopters and AC-130 Gunships. This is not their primary role and is a function that may be covered by a decicated Air Force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) unit on the scene.

USAF CCTs typically work alongside other Special Operations Forces and accompany them on missions. They are proficient in many methods of insertion such as HALO parachuting, and amphibious operations.

Combat Controller Video

Combat Controllers from 23rd Special Tactics Squadron provide low air support for aircraft from Air Mobility Command. Note: towards the end of this clip, a C-17a Globemaster III aircraft can be seen landing on an austere landing strip. CCTs may support C-17s in their Special Operations Low Level II role by surveying and marking out landing strips for the C-17s.
official US DoD footage | released to public domain

Combat Controllers Equipment

Combat Controllers use a range of equipment when on operations

  • secure satcomms
    CCTs use encrypted satellite radios to talk to air assets, typically PRC-177 satcomm units.
  • infrared lights and strobes
    IR Strobes are used to mark out landing strips. The IR lights and strobes are invisible to the naked eye but highly visible via night vision goggles or aircraft FLIR sensors. The lights and strobes can be activated by remote control, enabling an entire adhoc runway or LZ to go from invisible to visible with the flick of switch.
  • laser target designators
    when calling in air strikes, CCTs mark the target with a laser beam from a portable designator unit such as the SOFLAM
usaf combat controllers
A pair of USAF combat controllers, hidden in tall grass. The missions carried out by CCTs often require them to operate covertly and avoid direct combat when possible, however, they are always ready and able to take on the enemy.

USAF Combat Controllers Resources

« USAF Special Operations

CCT insignia
Featured CCT Photo
cct - combat controllers
Combat Controllers on Motorcycles
(click for fullsize)
more CCT photos

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