Explosions shook the air as the white truck, almost invisible through the dust and smoke, weaved its way across a training range towing a target being shot at by 40mm rounds from aircraft patrolling the sky. 

Special operations Airmen from here tested the remote-controlled truck, the latest in unmanned vehicle technology, at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., Feb. 4.

The newly-acquired $180,000 truck is guided by a Global Positioning System. Airmen from the 27th Special Operations Wing are using the truck to train aerial and ground crews in combat operations.

"This moving target will provide a much more realistic training environment for our (Airmen)," said Col. Buck Elton, 27th SOW commander. "It is the first of its kind to be used in Air Force Special Operations Command." 

The GPS controlled Ford F-250, is able to start, stop, drive in various patterns and tow a target without a human presence in the cab. 

This capability not only allows aircrews to practice shooting at a moving target, but will also be used by ground crews to simulate multiple aggressive hostile situations.

"The truck can be used to aggress an area and provide a persistent threat up to a point," said Maj. Ian Frady, 27th Special Operations Air Operations Squadron deputy range manager. "However, 98 percent of what it will be used for is aerial moving target practice."

Though in its initial testing phase, members who control the range training program are optimistic about the training potential the truck will provide in the future. 

"This is an unparalleled tool," Frady said. "We cannot wait to bring teams from other wings in AFSOC out to Cannon so they can train with the vehicle. It opens up a new and unique training opportunity for us. We really cannot express how excited we are about this."