In the Boar's Nest: JSTARS hosts large joint-force exercise: integrates with Navy

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
  • 116th Air Control Wing
The 116th Air Control Wing hosted the eighth annual Boar's Nest Large Force Exercise involving more than 20 joint-force units and 55 different aircraft for aircrew training in a realistic threat environment, August 18 through 20.

Boar's Nest provided the unique opportunity for 116th ACW aircrews -- flying the E-8C Joint STARS manned, battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform -- to integrate with the Navy's newest marine patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.

The P-8A was from Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing ELEVEN out of Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla.

Capt. Clayton Gibbs, a 116th ACW air battle manager and one of the chief exercise planners, served as a liaison officer at the exercise air operation center based at The Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga.

"This exercise showed that the JSTARS manned platform and the P-8 provided an amazing capability to detect, locate and classify maritime targets when the two aircraft are linked in together working cooperatively," said Gibbs.

Broadening the integration between the Guard and naval air assets, two JSTARS liaison officers flew missions aboard the P-8, a first for the 116th ACW.

"I learned a lot of very useful information and was able to share a lot of information while flying with the P-8 Poseidon crew," said Lt. Col. Victor Ellis, 116th ACW exercise liaison officer.

"During the Boar's Nest simulated war at sea, we used the complementary strengths of JSTARS and the P-8 to positively identify maritime vessels over a large area of responsibility and determine whether they were friendly, enemy, or neutral. Our timeline to successfully interdict enemy maritime targets was significantly shortened using our collective capability," said Ellis.

Adding another joint aspect to the maritime portion of the exercise, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG-31) -- flying F/A-18 Hornets out of Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, S.C. -- acted as mission commander for all JSTARS controlled maritime strike packages.

"We don't normally train with the F-18's, so this was another highlight for us," said Gibbs.

In all, this year's Boar's Nest allowed the 116th ACW to bring together joint assets including fifth-generation F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighters for a large force exercise in keeping with one of the wing's long-term goals according to Gibbs.

"Our long-term goal is to tap into ongoing exercises and resources available at The Air Dominance Center and take it to the next level with JSTARS integration," said Gibbs.

"Traditionally when a unit comes to The Air Dominance Center, it's for more of an air-to-air type of environment. With exercises like Boar's Nest, we bring the air-to-ground perspective and are able to do it more economically by tagging onto an existing exercise."