Poinsett Range: the training mission
By Airman 1st Class Diana M. Cossaboom, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 17, 2014
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Editor's note: This is part two of a two-part series on the mission of Poinsett Range.
Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, just 20 minutes from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, provides a variety of opportunities for Department of Defense military members to train.
The range consists of bombing and shooting areas regulated by a control tower, electronic warfare capabilities, and 12,500 acres used for navigation and survival, evasion, resistance, escape training.
The range provides Airmen the ability to use all unguided bombs, aided munitions which use a global positioning system, and laser guided bombs, said Capt. Joshua Arnall, 20th Operations Support Squadron wing chief of operations training.
None of the munitions dropped on Poinsett are live, and are disposed of by explosive ordnance disposal Airmen at Shaw.
Only with practice can the pilots hone their skills, they can't drop bombs correctly if they don't practice, said Onelio Renedo III, 20th OSS range operations officer.
In 2013 a total of 754 aircraft used Poinsett Range, dropping 1,070 bombs, and shooting 172,160 bullets including 20mm, 7.62mm, and 50 caliber bullets.
Poinsett is equipped with microphones and video cameras to assist in tracking the hits and misses when the aircraft expel munition at the target.
The range is an asset for the younger Airmen so they have a chance to use their munitions before they go into combat, said Arnall.
Poinsett, a Department of Defense contractor run range, is not specifically available for Shaw, but open to all services.
Poinsett Range is a 20th Fighter Wing asset, however it is provided for the entire DOD.
Other services that use the range include the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, South Carolina Air National Guard, South Carolina Army National Guard, and North Carolina Army National Guard.
"The purpose of the range is so the pilots go through the mechanics of shooting, dropping bombs, zoning in on their target and watching their parameters- making sure they're not too steep, too shallow or too fast," said Renedo.
Poinsett also offers an electronic warfare capability which is a program that pilots use to experience a simulated environment similar to that of combat.
The electronic warfare personnel shoot simulated munitions at the aircraft giving the pilots a safe environment to practice different scenarios.
"We can work through electronic warfare so we can see it real time in our aircraft, what it looks like, and what it sounds like when the electronic warfare personnel spike us," said Arnall.
The pilots also use the range to do training with Tactical Air Control Party Airmen.
It's important for the TACP's to use the range to get the hands-on experience when it comes to communicating with a pilot before they go down range, said Renedo.
TACP Airmen call in air strikes from the front lines, which makes training extremely important for both pilot and TACP Airman to have.
On the south side of Poinsett is an area set aside for land navigation training used by the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron and the survival, evasion, resistance, escape personnel.
In 2013, approximately 125 hours were used for ground training at Poinsett.
"The big thing about Poinsett is we really emphasize the DOD aspect," said Renedo.
The varied training opportunities offered at Poinsett allows for military members to receive the training necessary year round to head into a combat situation with confidence.
The environmental mission and training mission work hand-in-hand to maintain the range for readiness, keeping Poinsett steadfast in military training.
Poinsett Range is open to the public for viewing military aircraft expel their munitions and train. For more information, call (803) 895-2597.