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What Is The Difference Between JTAC And TACP? (The Distinction)

What Is The Difference Between JTAC And TACP? (The Distinction)

Tactical air control party (TACP) and joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) are two different military ranks

A tactical air control party (TACP) is an officer who provides real-time air support to ground units and medical evacuation for wounded personnel in combat operations. On the other hand, a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) is similar but has additional duties of coordinating aircraft and questions during targeting. 

The difference between these two is that a TACP will require further training to be able to answer doctrinal questions on behalf of attacking forces, whereas a JTAC will only need to know the fundamentals of air support and direct fire upon ground targets without requiring any doctrinal information or questioning by the aircraft.

There is a primary difference between JTAC and TACP: JTAC is a certification whereas TACP is a career path. TACP is the term used by U.S. forces, while different countries such as NATO, Japan, and South Korea have adopted JTAC. 

This article will try to answer your questions regarding these two positions in the army. So, let’s dive into it… 

What Is TACP? 

The tactical officer is the person who will be in charge of the air, land, and sea aspects of any military operation.

They are responsible for planning, directing, and controlling all tactical operations. The training is not only physically challenging but also mentally. 

If you’re planning to join Air Force TACP, watch this video to get more insights

What Is JTAC?

It’s the abbreviation of Joint Terminal Attack Controller.

It is a qualified military force member who directs a combat-engaged aircraft and provides it support from a forward end.

Differences Between JTAC and TACP

A tactical air control party is a military unit that supervises air support. The airmen who serve as joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs), and tactical air control parties (TACP) are the eyes, ears, and brains of combat operations.

The difference between JTAC and TACP is that the TACP is a dedicated controller. At the same time, the JTAC is an aircrew member who is not associated with any particular unit or aircraft.

In this way, they have more flexibility in controlling other aircraft—especially low-flying aircraft—which enables them to meet their mission objectives more quickly and efficiently. Because of this, TACP teams are critical in providing close air support for ground forces.

Qualifications for TACP and JTAC

Qualifications for TACP Qualifications for JTAC 
The knowledge of maps, charts, and ways of survival is mandatory.It is mandatory for JTAC officers to be noncommissioned officers or above.
Must have completed JTAC They should also take the JTAC primer course via MarineNet, which is a virtual training course.
One must be physically trained for parachute duty EWTGPAC or EWTGLANT TACP School are two options for their graduation.
Must have completed 
Single-scope background investigation (SSBI)
Officer Training School (OTS) 
Air Force Academy (AFA) 
Or Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFROTC)
JTAC vs. TACP—Qualifications

What Is The Difference Between Air Force TACP And Combat Controllers?

In combat situations, the Air Force TACP coordinates air support from aircraft such as fighter jets and bombers to provide support for ground troops. One cannot become a TACP without undergoing the training of JTAC. 

What is the difference between Air force TACP and Combat Controllers?
A combat chopper

Combat controllers are soldiers that have been trained to operate on the battlefield. Their duty is to aid in the evacuation of wounded and injured, as well as provide reconnaissance and other support.

Combat controllers also perform close air support (CAS) missions, where they direct aircraft such as helicopters and drones to targets.

As a result of the extremely arduous training of combat controllers, only 500 of them are currently deployed. They are as different as Airborne and Rangers. 

Are JTAC Special Forces? 

JTACs are part of the ground force, but they are not special forces.

They are combat controllers, which is a term used to describe a group of soldiers who have specific training in communications and foreign languages, as well as some weapons training.

JTACs communicate with pilots and other ground troops and help coordinate their efforts on the battlefield. They are not highly trained like special forces, but they do have specialized training that makes them valuable assets for the military.

Does TACP Attend Jump School? 

TACP needs to attend jump school. The Air Force has a long history of using drop zone specialists in combat zones, and TACP is no different.

The primary reason that TACP is required to attend jump school is that they’re front-line fighters and need to train for dropping.

If you’re going to be a TACP, then you’re going to have to complete extensive training in parachuting and survival skills along with many other things like underwater combat and demolitions.

How Long Is JTAC School?

It takes three years to complete JTAC school.

During the course, you will learn how to operate JTAC equipment, plan missions for JTACs, understand the mission requirements for each type of aircraft and operate as a JTAC in a variety of situations.

How long is JTAC school?
Flag of the United States

Length Of TACP Schooling

The length of your TACP schooling can vary greatly. Some schools offer a shorter duration of training, while others offer a longer duration.

The duration of the TACP school is dependent on the type of course you choose, which will determine how long it takes to complete each section of the course. The duration of TACP training varies between 1 and 2 years but it doesn’t take long if you’ve already taken JTAC training.

Elite Unit In Air Force 

The elite unit (E-U) is a group of the most dedicated and skilled soldiers trained and equipped to perform the most dangerous missions.

They are considered the best at their job, for example, commandos, special operations forces (SOF), etc. The term “elite” means that they are the best at performing their tasks.

The following are some elite teams in the airforce:

  • Weather forecaster
  • Combat controller 
  • Air Force pararescue 
  • Navy seals 

Tier 1 Forces

Tier 1 forces are those units whose members are specifically selected from each unit for training and development.

They are highly trained and equipped to perform secretive missions such as hostage rescue or combat search and rescue (CSAR). 

Tier 2 Forces

Tier 2 forces include all other soldiers trained to perform their assigned duties but may not be trained like Tier 1 forces.

They’re considered elite forces. Green beret and SEALs fall in the category of Tier 2 unit forces.

Elite Unit In Air Force 
Six jets flying in the sky

Should TACPs Know How To Swim?

If you’re planning to join special warfare, you need to be good at swimming. It’s a part of the job of combat control and other special warfare careers.

Since you more often face life-threatening situations, it’s probably good to know how to swim. 

Though when joining TACP as a career path, swimming is not a requirement. It may also be worth considering EOD and SERE options for those who have difficulty swimming.


  • Both JTAC and TACP are different airmen ranks.
  • The individual qualified to request close air support from an advanced position is JTAC. As a JTAC, you are usually assigned to conventional army units in the US Air Force.
  • To become a TACP, you must become a JTAC, while to become a JTAC, you need only to be certified as a JTAC.
  • The retention rate of Air Force TACPs is only 25% due to intense training.

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