Presented to: Capt. Shane P. Muscato
Citation: For pioneering multiple navigational developments in the MC-130H, ensuring national command authority response options at the far end of the political spectrum.
Capt. Shane P. Muscato is a flight commander and MC-130H evaluator navigator at the 15th Special Operations Squadron. He has made outstanding contributions to the field of navigation across three areas, submunition dispenser system (SDS) employment, airdrop techniques, and helicopter aerial refueling (HAR). In 2008 during his tenure at the Weapons Instructor Course, Capt. Muscato conducted in depth research and authored a thesis paper creating tactics, techniques, and procedures for employing the sole submunition weapon for a transport aircraft. His groundbreaking work in the tactical employment of the SDS culminated in the first actual, non-test utilization of the weapon during SOCOM's largest exercise, EMERALD WARRIOR 2010. During this exercise, Capt. Muscato planned and executed a complex flight profile and release that validated the initial operating capability. Throughout the validation phase Capt. Muscato authored a change to increase efficiency of the employment method. Compensating for complex wind modeling, he developed a technique that stabilizes the release solution resulting in increased accuracy and reliability of the weapon's delivery. His actions are directly responsible for the acceptance of the SDS into the USAF weapons arsenal.
In September 2010, Capt. Muscato developed a close proximity airdrop technique which is now being utilized by elite Special Forces Units. Using this new technique, the MC-130H is now able to accomplish two separate airdrops of men and equipment in less than two minutes on the same geographical location. Through the development of this tactic there are now a multitude of drop zones being exploited that were originally unusable. This innovation capitalizes on small drop zones giving SOF teams the necessary autonomy and flexibility needed to succeed in their mission. In conjunction with the close proximity airdrop he also developed tactics using either SMP-2000 beacon (or radar beacon) and IR strobes. Capt. Muscato's ability to incorporate the intricacies of SOF requirements and MC-130H system abilities provides Special Forces a precise all-weather delivery capability.
Capt. Muscato also worked tirelessly to identify the capabilities and limitations of conducting HAR operations while simultaneously utilizing the terrain-following system of the MC-130H. His work specifically identified the limitations associated with the aggressive climb and descent profiles inherent at slow refueling airspeeds. By quantifying these profiles he was able to impose climb and descent restrictions. The impact was the successful execution of "Terrain Following HAR" in a live fly demonstration at a national training range.