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Technological Advances

Use of Radio in Tactical Situations

Early in the Korean War, air controller teams used World War II methods to call in airstrikes. A team in a jeep went forward to observe the enemy and call for air support by radio, directly controlling air strikes at the front line. Since the jeep on high gound was often visible to enemy forces, there were excessive casualties at first. The limitations of these ground-based observers led to the creation of the highly successful Mosquito airborne forward air controllers (FACs). Even though the FACs took over most of the TACPs original role, the TACPs developed a new and important mission as the war progressed. [Photo to the left shows a TACP jeep and personnel during the Korean War].

HelicopterA TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) consisted of an experienced T-6D Mosquito pilot, a radio operator, a radio mechanic, and one or two radio jeeps, World War II MB/GPWs at first. On 23 July 1950, the 6132d Tactical Air Control Group (TACG) took over the principal duty to supply the radio communications required by the Mosquitoes. The 6132d also absorbed the TACPs already in Korea and assumed responsibility for providing additional TACPs to the expanding Eighth Army, organized as Tactical Control Squadrons.

One TACP was allocated to each US infantry regiment and higher unit headquarters, and to each ROK division and corps. As quickly as the Far East Air Materiel Command could fabricate them, the 6132d group provided additional radio-control jeeps along with radio operators and mechanics. Some FACs were obtained from the United States but most came from tactical groups which were required to provide combat pilots initially for three weeks’ temporary duty as FACs.

The TACPs became communication links between ground commanders, airborne Mosquito FACs, and strike aircraft. The TACP jeeps were the only ground units at the front that could communicate between the incompatible radio systems. They also coordinated artillery fire with air strikes. Further, having the experience of the Mosquito pilot so close at hand enabled ground commanders to best benefit from the use of air power.