RANS launches missiles in downtown Miami

  • Published
  • By Maj. Curt Pool
Eight members of the 266 Range Squadron traveled to Avon Park and Miami, Fla., to provide threat emitter and surface-to-air missile visual cueing support for an urban exercise there recently.

The exercise was in support of the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and other special operations agencies. The main focus of the exercise was a night extraction of a high value target from the abandoned Grand Bay Hotel. RANS threat operators set up in a parking lot across from City Hall and launched Smokey SAMs as the helicopters were positioning for fast rope operations onto the hotel.

"The Smokey SAMs added a great touch to the whole operation," said Maj. Tim Pearson, who was the main coordinator for the exercise.

The Smokey SAM launch in the middle of an urban environment was also a great experience for RANS operators, as the SAMs are normally restricted to range use only. "It was a unique opportunity for everyone involved," said Idaho Air Guard Master Sgt. Jim Schmidt, the detachment commander for the 266 RANS.

Miami Police and numerous other local and federal agencies oversaw the exercise but did not send out the news release to the public until the night prior to the exercise for security reasons.

RANS radar technicians also had two threat emitters in place at the Avon Park Range near Melbourne, Fla., about 170 miles north of Miami. The threat emitters were used to enhance the scenario and add training for the helicopter crews and carrier-based close air support aircraft that were participating in the exercise.

This is the second long-range support exercise the RANS has provided for the 160th SOAR and the joint support continues to grow. A threat emitter team traveled to Fort Campbell, Ky., in March to provide threat recognition to new crews on the Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters. Range squadron operators also supported U.S. Navy electronic warfare training in Washington in February, and Apache Block III testing at Fort Irwin in California in March.