Close air support

Air support nearby . Also known by its acronym in English CAS (Close Air Support), it is defined as the air action carried out by an aircraft against hostile targets that are in the vicinity of its own or friendly forces. The determining factor for close air support is a detailed integration and coordination between ground forces and air support. While several aircraft can perform these actions, helicopters are the main means of accomplishing these missions, which are so integrated into the ground units that in some countries the helicopters are operated by the army and not by the air force .


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  • 1 Main models in service
  • 2 Cuban mission in Angola
    • 1 Other participation
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Sources

Main models in service

AC-130H Specter, on patrol while launching infrared missile flares, several weapons can be seen coming out of their sides including 105 mm howitzer

Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II : ( 1977 ) Known as tank hunting, it is a twin-engine single-seater specialized in close support, for which it has high maneuverability at low altitude and low speed, it has a precise GAU-gun 8A Avenger 30 mm capable of firing ammunition of depleted uranium , with a rate of 3,900 shots per minute, in addition to carrying a wide range of missiles and targeted bombs . You can also perform Advanced Air Control missions.

Sujoi SU-25 Frogfoot : ( 1981 ) Aircraft specialized in close support, of Soviet manufacture with the possibility of carrying a wide range of armament up to a total load of 4,400 kg.

Lockheed AC-130H Specter and 130U Spooky : Aircraft based on the C-130 Hercules freighter , intended for close support and air interdiction, capable of carrying a wide range of armament from 20mm Gatling machine guns to 105mm shells , which thanks On-board systems that include infrared sensors and other devices operate with very high precision and effectiveness.

Cuban mission in Angola

The most complex missions of close air support that the FAR have offered in any scenario where Cuban troops have been involved, occurred between August 2 and 10 , 1983 when a strong group of UNITA nearby and attacks the town of Cangamba , in the center of the municipality of Luachaze, Moxico province, Angola , with the main mission of capturing or eliminating the Cuban advisers who were there with some incomplete brigades of the FAPLA .

Sujoi SU-25 Soviet aircraft intended for close air support

The MiG-21PF of the Olives along with several more 21bis and MF, in total about nine operating from Menongue attack the enemy forces that at some times were only separated from the Cuban-Angolans by tens of meters, which is why the planes sometimes they had to attack UNITA with their cannons to detach them from their own units and then attack them with the C-5KO of their UB-16-57UMP reactive rocket launchers .

To coordinate the attacks, usually one of the planes kept flying at about 3,000 meters without participating in the attacks, acting as an advanced air traffic control station signaling the targets, on the 4th the MiG pilot Julio Chiong Almaguer arrives in Cangamba that comes as a ground pointer making the MiG-21 fire more effective.

In general, despite the fact that the MiG-21 were not an aircraft specialized in nearby air support, they gave a desisive contribution so that at the end of the fighting 493 bodies of UNITA were counted within the town, which together with those that were observed taken as sacks in trucks to the top they give a conservative figure of about 2,000 dead, 200 infantry weapons, ten pieces of artillery and mortars and 300,000 ammunition of different calibers were collected, as well as several transports and cisterns destroyed by aviation in the withdrawal.

Other participation

Another important action happens the 25 of March of 1984 when UNITA started a powerful attack on the town of Sumbe where mainly civilian collaborators were those who resisted heroically, about half past nine, after more than four hours of clashes , the attackers have managed to penetrate about three quarters of the city and take the airport, but failed to break the three resistance points where the internationalists were.

In these difficult circumstances, around ten hours, several Mig-21PF fighter planes based in Huambo and MI-8 helicopters, from the MMCA ( Cuban Military Mission in Angola ), arrive on stage and offer air support to defenders attacking the UNITA positions, forcing its troops to flee in disarray, leaving more than 150 dead and carrying scores of wounded. Subsequently a force of the Landing and Assault Brigade (BDA), cut off their withdrawal.

When the war in the Ethiopian Ogadén carried out a great deal of tactical bombardment against the enemy forces, in cases of close air support, the MiG-17F and MiG-21bis carried out more than 500 missions destroying an appreciable amount of tanks, cannons and other targets enemies.


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