by Capt. Daniel Adducchio, LT Jesse Hilton, and Bart Schmidt

U.S. Army Photo by 2LT Michael Needham

The Joint Combat Assessment Team (JCAT), which is composed of U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force contingents, continues to train aircraft combat damage assessors in anticipation of future requirements to gather evidence from aircraft hostile fire incidents, provide immediate threat data to combatant aircraft unit commanders, and make data available for engineering improvements to reduce the loss of lives and aircraft.

JCAT training consists of three phases.  Phase I, conducted at Fort Novosel, AL, consists of foundational knowledge to collect and analyze combat damage.  A few months later, students travel to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA, to attend Phase II.  This phase builds on the concepts taught during Phase I.  The capstone event of JCAT training, JCAT Phase III, is the annual Threat Weapons and Effects (TWE) seminar.  TWE draws information from threat exploitation, live fire demonstrations, and combat experience to provide a comprehensive picture on threat lethality.

U.S. Army Photo by 2LT Michael Needham

This year, Air Force JCAT hosted the TWE seminar in May at Eglin AFB, FL, bringing together more than 150 military and civilian subject-matter experts (SMEs) in the fields of survivability, intelligence, and aircraft operations.  Briefers included SMEs from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Missile System Intelligence Center, Institute for Defense Analyses, the Aviation Survivability Development and Tactics Team, the Defense Systems Information Analysis Center (DSIAC), the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the Air Force’s Aircraft Battle Damage Repair Team, and the Navy’s Combat Assessment Team.

The focus of this year’s event was on Russian capabilities and the recent conflicts in the theaters of Ukraine, Syria, and Iran.  Specific briefing topics included:

  • Russian Threat Systems and Capabilities
  • Ukraine Overview and Systems Employed in Theater
  • U.S. Central Command Overview and Systems Employed in Theater
  • Syrian Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS)
  • Iranian IADS
  • Overview of DSIAC Services
  • Vulnerability Requirements Development
  • Air Force Acquisition Intelligence Employment
  • JCAT Way Forward.

Throughout these briefings, particular attention was given to Russian-made threat systems, such as man-portable air defense systems, antitank guided munitions, and IADS.

The format for this year’s TWE also featured panel discussions in addition to the standard briefings.  The panels promoted great conversations between the panelists, additional insight into the topics, enhanced attendee participation, and improved focus on the event’s learning objectives.  These learning objectives included building a network to help identify and understand threat weapons and effects, improving understanding of Russian-based threat systems and employment to improve survivability designs, and increasing knowledge of available resources to shrink learning curves to address threat weapons and effects in future conflicts.  The TWE concluded with several briefings on how threat data are used to develop new, more survivable systems.

During the 3-day TWE training, the Air Force JCAT also coordinated a live-fire demonstration by the Air Force Special Operations Command at a Hurlburt Field test range.  The demonstration featured multiple static detonations, as well as numerous employment techniques and effects from overpressure.

With the completion of the JCAT phase training class of 2023, another 32 Joint personnel are now fully qualified JCAT assessors.  The dates, location, and registration details for next year’s TWE, which will be hosted by the Army, will be provided through DSIAC at a later date.

Lastly, the Army JCAT would like to welcome new members CW4 David Deavila, CW4 Blake Gailey, and CW3 Terrill Hassel.  The entire JCAT also would like to bid a fond farewell to CW4 Richard Barnett and thank him for his service to the team, the Army, and the United States. We wish him and his family the best of luck on their next adventures.