5RAR Tiger Logo Aircraft in Support

Senior Airman James Metcalf mans the radios for air support to 5RAR


In early 1966 a United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), was attached to the 1st Australian Task force during during 5RAR's 1st Tour for the purpose of coordination and control of all air strikes, close air support requests along with the medical evacuation requests (Dust Off) required in daily combat operations.  This photograph depicts the mobile communications equipment used by the members of the TACP.  The Tactical Air Controller pictured, SrA (Senior Airman) James Metcalf, one of the three Communication Specialists assigned to, and embedded with the 1st Australian Task Force.

Normally, this communications unit is mounted on the back of a vehicle, (Jeep or personnel carrier), but has the capability, as in this case, to be "dismounted" and used as a semi-permanently fixed base unit.  This facility was the TACP communications centre, which was physically located next to the Nui Dat Operations center and manned by the 3 TACP Communication Specialists, (Tactical Air Controllers).

The unit consists of several different radios, operating on a variety of different frequencies to facilitate the coordination between the Australian ground forces, the Forward Air Controllers, and the US air support resources.  Tactical Air Controller team members that accompanied the Australian ground forces on field operations communicated with the FACs (Forward Air Controllers) overhead once the base station got them airborne and in range.  Once the target was confirmed, friendly forces marked, etc., the FACs flying the O-1 aircrafts would directly control the strike aircraft and the actual strike.