Are PATFORSWA WPBs Being Equipped With a Target Designation System?

Crewmembers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Adak (WPB-1333) raise the American flag. Adak is assigned to CTF 55, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Frank Iannazzo-Simmons

NavyRecognition has some more details about the multi-unit exercise that prompted recent Iranian harassment of Navy and Coast Guard vessels, “U.S. Navy Surface Forces and Army Helicopters Conduct Live Fire Exercise in North Arabian Gulf.”

The ships involved in the event included Navy Expeditionary Landing Base ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), coastal patrol ships USS Sirocco (PC 6), USS Whirlwind (PC 11), USS Firebolt (PC 10 ), USS Tempest (PC 2), Coast Guard patrol boats USCGC Adak (WPB 1333), USCGC Maui (WPB 1304), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332), and guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60).

In addition, there were Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters operating from USS Lewis B. Puller. What I found particularly interesting was:

On the ships involved without organic aircraft control capabilities, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) was embarked to communicate directly with the aircraft and provide targeting information.

Does this mean that the Island class WPBs are getting a form of data link to allow them to pass targeting information to the Army attack helicopters? Other DOD aircraft?

Will the Webber class WPCs expected to go to PATFORSWA going to get these?

10 thoughts on “Are PATFORSWA WPBs Being Equipped With a Target Designation System?

  1. This could be an embarked Marine, Airforce or Special Forces operator.

    Interestingly, this is showing the direction of hybrid crews. Coast Guard boarding teams are sometimes used on Navy ships. This would be an operator from another service bringing an advantageous skillset to the Coast Guard.

    It’s good to see the Coast Guard and other services cooperating where it brings advantage.

    • When I was an exercise planner back during the Jurassic period, we had a Maritime Defense Zone exercise that included a couple of Air Force aircraft that were supposed to respond to a terrorist controlled vessel approaching San Francisco. Well they came, but they couldn’t pick out the target. I still have doubts that, particularly Air Force and Army aircraft, could help us if the Coast Guard detected an attack in progress.

  2. Following is a quote of a comment from GMCM Bill Wells (USCG ret.),

    “Five years of WPB in Vietnam where there were thousands of tactical aircraft and we couldn’t talk to one of them. Well, one maybe. A “Birddog” spotter flew over and dropped us a message stick with his frequency.

    “After the “Point Welcome Incident” everyone promised the WPBs would get TacAir communications to help prevent another friendly fire situation. And everyone promised, and promised, and promised. Then in 1969 my WPB almost got napalmed because the Coastal Surveillance Group forgot we were in the attack zone. They did promise.

    “I can’t see the Coast Guard getting the gear. After all, the cutters are still painted white. The rationale was that white is less threatening than gray. So, if the cutters begin providing targeting information will they then be better targets. Time to get some haze gray.

    “It may be a good thing but will it change the character and purpose of the Coast Guard being in the Persian Gulf? A sea change in philosophy after a decade.”

    I’m not sure changing white with racing stripe to haze gray is a good idea since our boats would look more like Iranian missile boats, but I am all for clear communications between cutters and DOD attack aircraft.

    • @Bill, That seems to be the standard I have been seeing. The aft Mk38 is frequently removed to make room for other loads. In the video there was at least one boat that did not have a Mk38 aft.

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