The Machete is a Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft. It is a ground attack aircraft conceived for High Threat CAS where the aircraft is operating within or near a Surface to Air Missile Engagement Zone (MEZ) and is threatened by anti-aircraft artillery, small arms fire, Man-Portable Surface to Air Missiles (MANPADS) and enemy fighter aircraft. The Machete is the Air Asset component in the CAS mission, but in two seat tandem configurations can also serve as its own Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft.
The Mission of CAS is to dispense lethal authority upon hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly surface forces. According to DoD JP 3-09.3 “CAS requires (the) detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those (friendly) forces.” In satisfying a CAS mission there are three components: the Surface Commander (whose intent is considered when executing the CAS mission), the Controller (the representative of the Surface Commander who communicates directly with pilots of air assets to direct air strikes in the tactical area) and the Air Asset (the fixed or rotary wing aircraft that delivers ordnance and other lethal mechanisms to target). The Machete is the Air Asset component of the CAS mission. The two seat tandem Machete, including the SM-27T and SM-28T, can also serve as is own Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft by allowing a Controller who is in secure communication with the Surface Commander the ability to direct the pilot from the rear seat of the aircraft.