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Close Air Support and the Battle for Khe Sanh by Shawn P. Callahan, Marine Corps History Division

By Shawn P. Callahan, Marine Corps History Division

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To ensure that night and poor weather did not deny ground troops the air support they needed, the Marines also participated in another joint project with the navy: the A-6 intruder. Although primarily designed around the navy’s need for a heavy tactical attack aircraft, the intruder was able to provide all-weather support to the Marines from advanced bases by means of a sophisticated radar-beacon targeting system. As long as a fAC on the ground had a radar reflector or beacon, he could get an An A-4 Skyhawk about to take off from the expeditionary short airfield for tactical support (SATS) at Chu Lai.

160 two days of heavy bombardment, after which 881S was taken with little resistance. the decision was made to continue the attack the next day, after supporting arms had more time to soften the nVA defenses. the two hills were bombarded by artillery and air throughout the evening and night, ending only when the battalions crossed the line of departure at 0800, with another massive assortment of preplanned support on call. Yet again, the Marines met fierce resistance from a well-entrenched enemy.

121 As o-1 fAC(A)s had begun roaming further north away from ground forces, they were also successful in locating ground targets in interdiction operations which had no immediate impact on the operations of ground units. operating north of the An O-1, seen from the perspective of an attack aircraft, conducting bomb damage assessment of a target after an air strike. 35 DMZ, they often were faced with higher concentrations of antiaircraft guns and even surface-toair missiles. More survivable aircraft were needed to direct attack aircraft in this environment.

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