MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Despite the absence of an enemy that presents a viable threat from above, “Death from Below” has maintained its Marines proficiency in its primary skill set.
The Marines of B Battery, 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, spent Tuesday training on a relatively new vehicle-mounted system that will enhance their ability to deliver lethal force to enemy aircraft and prevent future friendly fire instances. This system, known as the Joint Range Extension, gives the LAAD community the capability to see further and determine the type, speed and direction of aircraft. It also identifies aircraft in the battle space as friendly or hostile.
“Utilizing one JRE system, we can get an air picture to six fire points and give them eyes on the enemy before the enemy gets eyes on them,” said Sgt. Dustin M. Poe, a section leader with Bravo Battery.
Air pictures are sent to the vehicle by satellites, Internet Protocol network, or radio frequencies and can pull information from all types of joint sensors such as Navy air defense ships, Air Force airborne surveillance platforms and Marine Corps ground based radar systems.
“This system is worth its weight in gold,” said Capt. Tim S. Heffington, the battery commanding officer. “We are coming into an age where a lot of our enemies are going to begin using unmanned aerial vehicles. Those are hard to see with the naked eye, but with the JRE system, we are able to tell the Marines ‘Team three, you have a UAV inbound at this bearing, range, and altitude.’ The teams have computers that will show them a near-real time air track so they can track it as it comes into the engagement envelope of the missile and sectors of fire of that team.”
2nd LAAD completed the unit’s first successful field test with the system at Weapons Training Instructor course at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., last year.
“It’s just training fires out there, but this gear made it so our Marines completed their mission to perfection,” said Heffington.