Fixed Wing

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SOP No. Nill
SOP Title Fixed Wing
Author Thurrucane
Revision No. 2
Implementation Date 01 JAN 15
Last Review Date 28 SEP 15
Reviewed By N/A


The 39th Battalion boasts excellent structure, routine and simulation of the Australian Army seen presently today. While in its current state, immersion levels are fantastic and can have very high intensity moments, 39th Battalion could push this further by emphasizing the aviation element. The Royal Australian Air Force has four key roles: i. Defend Australia and its allies from the air ii. Air attack iii. Move personnel and equipment through the air using service aircraft iv. And, the collection of information and intelligence using airspace and land based systems

In today’s real world military the Air Force can be what sets the pinnacle of a defense forces technological and military dominance. With air superiority, a faction can insert troops more strategically and quickly, whilst also providing valuable air support to ground elements and in some cases negating the requirement for a ground element at all. A 39th Battalion Air Force would also introduce more procedures in communication and battle planning, once again adding to the realism and immersion members of 39th Battalion joined for. With numbers in attendance to an operation being an issue on whether the operation is able to be successful or is eligible to have an aviation element, 39th Battalion Air Force can play as little or as much as required:

  • minimum one player (Pilot) required per F/A-18E or C130J
  • minimum two player (Pilot & ACO) required per F/A-18F

The primary offensive role of the F/A-18E/F is to penetrate known enemy airspace and aggressively engage air and ground hostiles in the quickest manner possible to allow safe insertion of friendly troops in the area of operation. Once safe insertion is complete, the F/A-18E/F can return to base or if the flight crew deem themselves available to, can standby in a hold to await request for close air support and forward air control from Terminal Attack Control. Having air unit/s available to support ground elements would allow for potentially more interesting mission building and planning, as missions where the ratio of hostiles outweighs friendly forces and the probability of a successful mission without air elements is unlikely. This SOP will provide material to effectively employ such roles.


The fixed wing qualification is specifically aimed towards those who demonstrate excellent communication skills, situational awareness, team work abilities and work well making quick decisions under pressure. The qualification has two ratings, a Pilot rating and a Air Combat Officer (ACO) rating. In order to qualify for a pilot rating, the person must hold an ACO rating, so that every Pilot understands the role of the ACO, what the ACO is capable of and limited to, which in turn will allow the pilot to better understand how to fly with an ACO.


For a Pilot demonstrate:

  • Aircraft general knowledge
  • Ordnance Knowledge
  • ARMA 3 Aerodynamics
  • Combat Air
    • Offensive Counter Air (OCA)
    • Defensive Counter Air (DCA)
  • Proficient Navigation skill
    • Stacks
    • Following a flight plan
    • Formations
    • Map, compass, Grid, Radials
  • Departures & Arrivals
    • All time & weather types
  • Parachute Operation
  • Comms & Terminology
    • Crew Resource Management
    • Operating as a Crew
    • Operating with a FAC
  • ACO Qualification

For an ACO demonstrate:

  • Aircraft general knowledge
  • Ordnance Knowledge
  • Parachute Operation
  • Comms & Terminology
    • Crew Resource Management
    • Operating as a Crew
    • Operating with a FAC
  • Ability to operate ATFLIR
    • Recognise Targets
    • Lase Targets
  • Map, compass, Grid, Radials


Pilot. Safely and effectively operate fixed wing aircraft to complete assigned tasks, whilst deliberating with and ensuring the safety of passengers, crew and friendly ground elements.

Air Combat Officer (ACO). Effectively work and communicate with the Pilot and friendly ground elements to complete the assigned task by surveillance and/or accurate use of ordnance.


The procedure for this SOP is written as a detailed and informative material to encourage those passionate and interested in the field of fix wing combat aviation and to deter those who are not. However it is not a requirement to commit the all of the following procedure to memory. The following procedure material is presented detailed to promote enthusiasm in the most realistic manner it can be in ARMA 3 and persons may utilise as much of the material in this SOP as they feel comfortable with.


The Australian Federal Government, Department of Defence and the Royal Australian Air Force do not endorse or support this organization. 39BAF is a Non-Profit group, run by volunteers, and is comprised of members who share a common interest in the battle simulation of military operations and procedures through the use of ARMA3 and other third party software. Information presented in this document remains the property of 39BAF. Some images on this document have been generated by 39BAF, and therefore remain the property of 39BAF. This document, and the contents thereof, is under copyright by 39BAF, and all rights are reserved. Information on this document in no way represents any opinion or policy of the Royal Australian Air Force. Information on aircraft has been obtained from declassified sources available online.


Currently Arma 3 offers us the capability of utilizing only few strike and air mobility aircraft, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet’s and the C-130J Hercules. The Royal Australian Air Force employs all of these except the F/A-18E, which does not carry an Air Combat Officer, only the pilot. However they are the only Air Force in the world to employ a next generation model of the Super Hornet called the EA-18G Growler (taking delivery in 2017) and integrate its technology into the F/A-18F, making our Super Hornets the most advanced in the world. Details of these advanced capabilities are classified, but consist of more advanced target acquisition and jamming systems, and increased performance.

AIR F-18F RAAF Rollout lg.jpg

The Arma F/A-18E could be thought of as the EA-18G Growler, as the Pilot of the Growler manipulates the combat systems on board the aircraft much like the ACO of the F/A-18F. The EA-18G growler does have a second seat for an Electronic Warfare Operator, whose role it is to provide communication, information systems and electronic warfare (CISEW, listening to or interfering with enemy electronic transmissions). The way Arma works negates the role for an Electronic Warfare Operator. Deploying the F/A-18E or EA-18G would allow more members to provide roles on the ground, which is especially helpful when attendance numbers are low. The C-130J Hercules is a medium-sized tactical air lifter. In reality it is capable of carrying 128 passengers, 97 stretcher patients, 19.5 ton of cargo, or 74 paratroopers. It’s highly desirable in the battle zone as it has the capability of carrying significant loads and landing on short and/or unsurfaced airstrips. It’s mainly used as carrying supplies and paratroopers for parachuting. This could be a great asset to inserting troops or giving support to troops already on the ground by dropping reinforcement units and supply drops. The C-130J is also equipped with electronic counter-measures, allowing it to penetrate in and out of known hostile areas quickly and safely.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a twin-engine carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft variant based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm gun and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.

General characteristics

  • Crew: F/A-18E: 1, F/A-18F: 2
  • Length: 60 ft 1¼ in (18.31 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 8½ in (13.62 m)
  • Height: 16 ft (4.88 m) Wing area: 500 ft² (46.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 32,081 lb (14,552 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 47,000 lb (21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,937 kg)
  • Power plant: 2 × General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans Dry thrust: 13,000 lbf (62.3 kN) each Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) each
  • Internal fuel capacity: F/A-18E: 14,400 lb (6,780 kg), F/A-18F: 13,550 lb (6,354 kg)
  • External fuel capacity: 5 × 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,381 kg)
  • erformance
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8+[13] (1,370 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
  • Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
  • Rate of climb: 44,882 ft/min[119] (228 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 94.0 lb/ft² (459 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.93
  • Design load factor: 7.6 g


AIM-9X Sidewinder

The AIM-9X Sidewinder from Raytheon is the latest member in the Sidewinder family of short-range air-to-air missiles. Touted as one of the most advanced short-range AAMs in the world, it can be easily integrated on a wide range of modern combat aircraft.

AIM-9X Sidewinder.jpg

What is infrared homing? Infrared homing refers to a system which uses the emission from a target of electromagnetic radiation in the infrared part of the spectrum to track and follow it (imaging infrared IIR). Missiles which use infrared seeking are often referred to as "heat-seekers", since infrared (IR) is just below the visible spectrum of light in frequency and is radiated strongly by hot bodies. Many objects such as people, vehicle engines and aircraft generate and retain heat, and as such, are especially visible in the infra-red wavelengths of light compared to objects in the background. A missile guided by infrared homing can be defeated by using infrared countermeasure (IRCM). IRCM known to most as false heat targets known as flares.


  • Type Short-range air-to-air missile
  • Place of origin USA
  • Unit cost US$664,933
  • Weight 85.3kg
  • Length 3.02m
  • perational range 1.0 to 35.4 km
  • Speed Mach 2.7
  • Guidance system Infrared homing



The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) developed by Raytheon has proved its combat capabilities during missions in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. Multi-shot capability, immunity to countermeasures, and low smoke solid-fuel rocket motor make the AIM-120 one of the world's best AAMs. The missile is guided by an internal active radar seeker complemented by an inertial reference unit and microcomputer. The missile carries a high-explosive fragmentation warhead with proximity and contact fuses.


  • Type Medium-range air-to-air missile
  • Place of origin USA
  • Unit cost US$1,786,000
  • Weight 152kg
  • Length 3.7m
  • Operational range 180 km
  • Speed Mach 4
  • Guidance system Active radar homing

What is active radar homing? Active radar homing (ARH) is a missile guidance method in which a missile contains a radar transceiver (in contrast to Semi-active radar homing, which uses only a receiver) and the electronics necessary for it to find and track its target autonomously. Because the missile autonomous it is known as fire-and-forget. It is more accurate and has the best kill probability being more resistant to ECM, but is very expensive. A missile guided by active radar homing cannot be defeated by using infrared countermeasures; instead advanced signal jammer pods are used, known as Communications Countermeasures Set (CCS). In Arma it can only be defeated by outmaneuvering, ie tight turns, pitch backs, lag displacement rolls or flying low level and using the terrain. AMRAAM’s can be distinguished from the Sidewinder’s by its faster speed and almost invisible vapor and smoke trail.

AGM-65 Maverick


It is a precision-guided weapon that can be used for defense suppression, close air support and interdiction missions. It has high strike probability and stand-off capabilities with a kill rate of 93% with its accuracy within a meter of its target. The missile is used against multiple targets such as air defenses, ships, heavy armour, fuel storage facilities and ground transportation equipment. It is manufactured by Raytheon Systems. Target acquisition can be made through infrared homing on ground vehicles or a laser designation normally made by an ACO or other ground unit.


  • Type Air-to-surface missile
  • Place of origin USA
  • Unit cost US$110,000
  • Weight 304kg
  • Length 2.5m
  • Operational range 22+ km
  • Speed 1,150 km/h
  • Guidance system Laser & Infrared Guidance



The Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) utilizes a 500-pound general purpose warhead. The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and then the munition guides to a spot of laser energy reflected from the target. There are two generations of GBU-12 LGBs: Paveway I with fixed wings and Paveway II with folding wings. Paveway II models have the following improvements: detector optics and housing made of injection molded plastic to reduce weight and cost; increased detector sensitivity; reduced thermal battery delay after release; increased maximum canard deflection; laser coding; folding wings for carriage, and increased detector field of view. (Paveway II's instantaneous field of view is thirty percent greater than that of the Paveway I's field of view).


  • Type Laser guided bomb
  • Place of origin USA
  • Unit cost US$21,896
  • Weight 230kg
  • Length 3.2m
  • Filling Tritonal - 500 pounds / 227kg
  • Range 16km
  • Guidance system Laser Guidance

M61A2 Vulcan 20mm Cannon


The M61A2 Vulcan is the light weight, faster firing version of the hydraulically driven, six-barrel, air-cooled, and electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon. It fires 20mm rounds at extremely high rate and with a zero degree impact angle at 1000 meters range making this an extremely accurate weapon. Highly effective on tight enemy infantry positions and armored targets. The F/A-18E/F carries 578 rounds of ammunition.


  • Type Rotary Cannon
  • Place of origin USA
  • Caliber 20mm / 0.797in
  • Weight 92kg
  • Length 1.8m
  • Rate of Fire 6,600 rounds per minute
  • Barrels 6 barrel
  • Muzzle Velocity 1,050 m/s

Mission Procedures

For the purpose of this document and the knowledge of those reading this document, basic flight procedures and manoeuvres shall not be included but briefed verbally in practice sessions.


Before every mission an individual mission briefing between the Pilots, ACO’s and flight crew will take place. The following details will be discussed if appropriate to the mission objective:

  • Aircraft – F/A-18E/F C-130J /Other rotary Air Assets
  • Call sign/s – see glossary for list of call signs
  • Mission type – Escort/CAS/Security/Show of Force/Recon/Defending from hostiles/Attacking hostiles
  • Intelligence on Enemy units – Aircraft/Ships/Ground Vehicles/Infantry
  • Primary objective – Standby and watch/Neutralize threats/Provide support
  • Formation technique – Close/Spread/Vee/Finger-four/Echelon
  • Engagement technique – Fast or Slow/Low to High/High to low
  • Weapons Employment – AIM-9/AIM-120/AGM-65/GBU-12
  • Weapons Target – Prioritizing hostile weak points/Engine Area/Low Armored Areas/Boat Bow/Fuel tanks
  • Communication – Channels/FAC/Ground troops/Recon aircraft/Strike Aircraft
  • Departure time – At time hhmm/Until requested
  • Stack/Holding – Locations/Names/Altitude/Speed/Inbound course/Leg time/Time in hold
  • Flight Plan to CP/RV – Marked on map or commit to memory
  • Conditions – Weather/Fuel/Contingencies



  • Aircrew are to ensure that the aircraft is correctly configured VIA load manager prior to start.


  • The load out manager should be used to load ordnance or fuel for this mission as briefed.

Ground / On-deck

Start Procedures

  • Aircraft starting is to be conducted at the direction of flight lead. Flight lead will specify lights on or off. Verify wings unfolded.

Final checks

  • Com channels correctly assigned
  • Weapons parameters set (SAFE)
  • Check in (Annex A) and 9 line cards (Annex B) available and completed as far as possible


  • Flight lead is to obtain necessary airways clearance from civilian ATC. ARMA is to be treated as OCTA unless mission specifies.


  • Standard formation taxi procedures are to be used, flight lead front and left, if able.

Takeoff / Launch

Duty Runway

  • The duty runway is to be determined and briefed by flight lead with respect to current weather.

Type Takeoff

  • With more than two aircraft departing a streamed departure is to be used. This is where aircraft will take off leaving a ten second gap between each other and join formation either in the circuit or during cruise to the RV. A flight formation of two aircraft may depart simultaneously, with the wingman slightly behind to maintain visual separation from flight lead in case of an aborted takeoff.

Takeoff Checks

  • Take off and pre departure checks are to be completed before entering the runway by all flight members. Flaps take off – AB on/off as briefed

En Route

Rendezvous (Location, Speed)

  • Flight lead is to brief an appropriate RV heading speed and altitude after takeoff. Flight lead is to update speed, heading and altitude every ten to twenty seconds until in formation, if formation flight is desired.

En Route Formation

  • Tactical formation is to be used, if required and as directed by flight lead. Close formation within friendly or neutral airspace. Spread formation penetrating hostile airspace.

Route of Flight

  • Marked on map or commit to memory. Route may consist of waypoints, known as checkpoints. Checkpoints are labeled numerically as the first one would be, “Check point one”, second “Checkpoint two”, etc.

Op Area

Range Info, Altitudes, Restrictions

  • RV points are known as Stacks. Stacks allow aircraft to hold, awaiting orders, and act as a reference points to aid communications and situational awareness. Stack levels for each aircraft to prevent collision. Minimum level separation 300m. Checkpoints may also be used for holding.

Altitude Restrictions: Stack hard deck is 5km or above. Speed in stack is 400km/h Controlling Agency


Entry / Exit procedures (Fencing in)

  • ENTRY: Check/Fence in with JTAC/FAC approaching CP/RV/Stack
  • EXIT: Exit via briefed RV and check/fence out with JTAC/FAC before leaving CP/RV/Stack

Weapons Checks

  • Weapons check is to be conducted at check in, then at the completion of each attack run. This consists of counting how much ordinance is left available, which then can be relayed to the FAC.

Knock It Off / Terminate Calls

  • Terminate calls will be used where unsafe conditions exist. All aircraft are to abort any current actions and return to CP or RV.

Fuel & G Checks

  • Fuel and G check are to be completed at the end of each attack run. Joker (yellow fuel level) or over G (>7.5G not simulated in Arma) are to be reported to the controlling agency immediately.

RTB / Recovery

Rendezvous (Location, Speed)

  • CP/RV 400km/h+


  • RTB formation is as directed by flight lead

Route of Flight

  • Marked on map or commit to memory


Allowable Slide Time

  • Flight will be cancelled if not airborne within 15min of planned departure time.

Go / No Go Criteria

  • All aircrew must have completed preflight

Hung / Unexpended Ordnance

  • Unexpended ordnance is to be jettisoned at RV if required


Post-flight debriefing is an integral part of every flight. The flight leader shall conduct a mission debrief to include ADMIN, TAC ADMIN, SAFETY OF FLIGHT, and MISSION CONDUCT. Emphasis shall be placed on identifying and correcting errors and poor techniques. Debrief shall include all available aircrew and be conducted in a timely manner.

CAS: Joint Procedures for Forward Air Control

CAS is an air action by fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets which are in close proximity to friendly forces and which require detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces. CAS is an offensive air support (OAS) mission that is planned and executed to deliver firepower against selected enemy capabilities at a designated place and time. By using the speed and mobility of aircraft, CAS provides the commander with the means to strike the enemy swiftly and unexpectedly. Applying the fundamentals of combined arms, the commander integrates CAS with other forms of fire support and the fire and movement of ground forces. In so doing, the commander takes advantage of fleeting battlefield opportunities and achieves combat objectives. CAS is a mission conducted at the tactical level that may affect operational-level objectives.

CAS is conducted when and where friendly combat forces are in close proximity to enemy forces. The word “close” does not imply a specific distance; rather, it is situational. The requirement for detailed integration based on proximity, fires, or movement is the determining factor. CAS provides firepower to neutralize, destroy, or delay enemy forces in offensive and defensive operations. At times, CAS is the best firepower delivery means available to rapidly mass a lethal capability, exploit tactical opportunities, or save friendly lives. Available aircraft that are capable of performing CAS are fully integrated into ground operations, thereby giving the commander flexibility in force employment.

The procedures contained herein are generic across all 39BAF Wings and Squadrons. They are taken and adapted to a simulation environment from NATO documentation which is uniform across all RAAF affiliated materials.

All F/A18 aircrew will be trained to conduct effective Close Air Support and to be able to communicate with FAC assets.

Forward Air Control

There are three types of Terminal Attack Control (TAC) used by a Forward Air Controller depending on their location with regards to the target, and the level of fire(if any) they are under:

Type 1 Control

Type 1 Control is used when the JTAC/FAC visually acquire the attacking aircraft and the target for each attack. Analysis of attacking aircraft geometry is required to reduce the risk of the attack affecting friendly forces. Type 1 control is used when the visual acquisition of the attacking aircraft by the JTAC/FAC and the analysis of attacking aircraft geometry is the best means available to reduce risk of the attack affecting friendly forces. Ability to operate in adverse weather, or aircrew capability are all examples where visual means of TAC may be the method of choice. Due to the use of visual cues to mitigate risk under Type 1 control, JTACs/FACs should not change the type of control to Type 2 or Type 3 after the CAS attack briefing has been given to CAS aircraft. Type 1 control procedures are as follows:

  • i. JTAC/FAC will visually acquire the target.
  • ii. Attack aircraft will verify target location correlates with expected target area.

Note: Attack aircraft validates target location by cross-checking that the position is coincident with the expected target area by using all appropriate means: map plot, target, designation displayed on digital map set, head-up display symbology, FLIR, radar, etc

  • iii. Aircraft will read back Line 4, Line 6, and any remarks or restrictions provided by the JTAC/FAC.
  • iv. JTAC/FAC will provide a verbal description or talk-on to the mark and/or target and confirm aircraft correctly identifies the mark and/or target.
  • v. Aircraft will provide an “IP INBOUND” call if requested.
  • vi. Attack aircraft will provide “IN” call indicating entering terminal phase of air-to-ground attack prior to weapons release.
  • vii. Attack aircraft will visually acquire target or mark.
  • viii. JTAC/FAC will visually acquire the attacking aircraft.
  • ix. JTAC/FAC will provide a “CLEARED HOT” or “ABORT” based on the above procedures being met.

Type 2 Control

Type 2 Control is used when the JTAC requires control of individual attacks and any or all of the conditions exist: JTAC is unable to visually acquire the attacking aircraft at weapons release, JTAC is unable to visually acquire the target, and/or the attacking aircraft is unable to acquire the mark/target prior to weapons release. Type 2 control requires control of individual attacks. If the tactical situation allows, the JTAC/FAC should make every effort to visually acquire the aircraft and assess attack geometry under Type 2 control, in order to provide an additional measure of safety, enhance SA, and be able to abort the attack if necessary. Likewise, the attacking aircraft may be able to visually acquire the target/mark prior to weapons release, but it is not required. Examples of when Type 2 control may be applicable are night, adverse weather, and high altitude or standoff weapons employment. Type 2 control procedures are as follows:

  • i. JTAC/FAC will send a CAS briefing (9-line) to attack aircraft
  • ii. Attack aircraft will verify target location correlates with expected target area
  • iii. Aircraft will read back Line 4, Line 6, and any remarks or restrictions provided by the JTAC/FAC. Aircrews will confirm that the readback is from the elevation and target location programmed into navigation/attack systems followed by restrictions
  • iv. Aircraft will provide a “IP INBOUND” call if requested
  • v. Attack aircraft will provide the JTAC with an “IN” call indicating entering terminal phase of air-to-ground attack prior to weapons release. Aircrew should make this call at the appropriate time to allow clearance before entering the release window
  • vi. JTAC/FAC will provide a “CLEARED HOT” or “ABORT”

1.3 Type 3 Control

Type 3 control is used when the JTAC requires the ability to provide clearance for multiple attacks within a single engagement subject to specific attack restrictions, and any or all of the following conditions, 1) The JTAC is unable to visually acquire the attacking aircraft at weapons release. 2) JTAC is unable to visually acquire the target. 3) The attacking aircraft is unable to acquire the mark/target prior to weapons release. While not required, if the tactical situation allows, the JTAC/FAC should make every effort to visually acquire the aircraft and assess attack geometry under Type 3 control, in order to provide an additional measure of safety, enhance SA, and be able to abort the attack if necessary. Likewise, the attacking aircraft may be able to visually acquire the target/mark prior to weapons release, but it is not required. JTAC/FAC will provide the CAS aircraft with targeting restrictions (e.g., time, geographic boundaries, final attack heading[s], specific target set). Following mandatory read back by the CAS asset, the JTAC/FAC then grants a weapons release clearance (“CLEARED TO ENGAGE”). Observers may also be used to mark targets during Type 3 control. All targeting data must be coordinated through the appropriate supported unit’s battle staff for approval. The JTAC/FAC will monitor radio transmissions and other available digital information to maintain control of the engagement. The JTAC/FAC maintains abort authority. Type 3 is a CAS terminal attack control procedure and should not be confused with TGO, air interdiction, or other “air support” missions which do not employ a JTAC/FAC. Type 3 control procedures are as follows:

  • i. JTAC/FAC will send the CAS briefing (9-line) to attack aircraft. Briefing should include area for attacks, restrictions/limitations, and attack time window, in the remarks
  • ii. Attack aircraft will verify target location correlates with expected target area
  • iii. Aircraft will read back Line 4, Line 6, and any remarks or restrictions provided by the JTAC/FAC
  • iv. Once satisfied the attacking aircraft have SA of the target area, the JTAC/FAC will provide attack aircraft “CLEARED TO ENGAGE”
  • v. Aircraft will provide an “IP INBOUND” call if requested
  • vi. Prior to initial weapons release, the attack aircraft will provide “COMMENCING ENGAGEMENT” to the JTAC/FAC
  • vii. JTAC/FAC will continue to monitor the engagement by all means available (visual, voice, digital, etc.). No other communications are required unless directed by the JTAC/FAC
  • viii. Attack aircraft will provide “ENGAGEMENT COMPLETE” to the JTAC/FAC

Communication Procedures


Check in/Fence in

As a CAS asset you will need to check in on the FACs individual frequency. This frequency will be contained in the main briefing. The check in briefing is as follows.


  • RAMD22 (FAC)
  • "Ramrod 22, Shogun 11 'checking in'. ATO Tango Lima 123. Two F18s, 30 miles south of CP Alpha, Angels 12. Four GBU 12s, two AGM 65s, 412 GUN each. Play Time 0+45, Abort code Alpha Bravo."
  • "Shogun 11, Ramrod acknowledged. Hold at CP Alpha, await further tasking."

Abort Code

At the discretion of the flight lead, you may elect to pass an abort code with your check-in. The abort codes will use the authentication table. If the FAC/JTAC needs to abort an attack, he will call "Abort" followed by the response to the abort code challenge passed with the check-in.


Example: (From the example authentication table Alpha+Bravo=Golf Red)

  • "Shogun11, Abort Golf Red, Abort Golf Red!"
  • "Shogun11 acknowledged, aborting."

Instructions for use:

  • 1. Read challenge Row then Column
  • 2. Read back response letter then color

Authentication Example:

  • F18: Dagger – Icebox11, 2 X F18, Authenticate Alpha Bravo
  • FAC: Icebox11 – Dagger, I authenticate Golf Red.

Allocation of CAS Assets

After initial check-in with the FAC/JTAC, CAS aircraft will typically proceed to hold at a Control Point (CP). CPs will generally be listed in the mission briefing, SPINS or IFG. They will either be an IFR waypoint or sometimes a visual point or killbox keypad location.

Holding at a CP is known as the 'CAS stack' and fights of multiple aircraft will be assigned block altitudes to hold in. This enables aircraft to vertically separate themselves and allows 'heads down' time in the cockpit for pilots to prepare for an attack or CAS task. Care must be taken in and around the CAS stack as many different flights and aircraft can operate from the same hold.

Once in the Stack, the FAC can either call single aircraft or a whole flight off the Stack for a target. The term "Shooter, shooter, shooter" is often used to indicate that the FAC requires the whole flight of aircraft for a CAS task.


  • "Shogun11, immediate CAS request, shooter shooter shooter. This will be a Type one control - Advise ready to copy 9-Line."
  • "Ramrod22, Shogun11 ready to copy."

The 9-Line Briefing


The 9-Line Briefing is the format in which the FAC conveys all information necessary for a successful engagement.

The standard 9-Line briefing is seen on the next page.

In certain cases the FAC/JTAC will need to omit line(s) from the 9-Line brief. For example if there were no friendly troops in the vicinity of the target or a lack of accurate target elevation data etc. This is simply achieved through transmitting the words "Line X, Y, Z N/A".

Attack timing can quite often be a big factor in a successful attack. A Time on Target (TOT) is used when a target needs to be engaged at a specific time.

Example: "Time on target five-zero."

This example indicates that the FAC/JTAC needs the target to be hit at 50 minutes past the hour. Note: Attacking the target prior to this time will not be authorised!

A Time to Target (TTT) is another timing device which may be used in a terminal attack control. It uses a countdown timer rather than a clock time. The terminal controller states the number of minutes and seconds to elapse from the time the countdown is started to the time aircraft delivered ordnance hits the target; the countdown is started with the word “HACK.”

Example: "Time to target ten plus zero zero... HACK."

This indicates that the FAC/JTAC needs the target engaged in ten minutes time from the 'hack.'


Direction and Distance Reference

If the tactical situation permits, a direction and distance reference can be used to aid in target acquisition. The FAC should provide a common reference for orientation. For example, THE MAIN ROAD (or river, tree line, etc) RUNS EAST-WEST. Next, the FAC must select some discernible ground feature to establish a common distance reference. A river, road, or field can be used; and distances are given in meters. For example, THE MAIN FIELD (or drop zone, assault strip, etc) IS 100 METERS LONG. Use definite statements in this and all other briefing items. The fighters expect the FAC to give them the best available measurements and estimates. Words like about, approximately, let's, and please waste radio transmission time. Specific and authoritative instructions are needed to accomplish a mission.


  • "Shogun11, The River runs North-South and has two separate bridges spanning it. Advise visual with the bridges..."
  • "Shogun11, Contact the bridges"
  • "Shogun11, From the northern bridge to the southern bridge is one unit. From the northern bridge, look east half a unit. There is a Shilka in a field. Advise visual contact."
  • "Contact the shilka in the field east of the northern bridge" "Shogun11, that is your target, call in hot."
  • "Shogun11, In Hot!"
  • "Shogun11, Cleared Hot!"

Type 1 Control Example

The following provides a step-by-step example of how a Type 1 control is conducted. JTAC callsign 'Icebox 11', attack aircraft callsign 'Pistol 31'.

The JTAC visually acquires target and verifies target location. At the direction of the supported commander, the JTAC submits an immediate Joint Tactical Air Strike Request, reports troops in contact, and receives two aircraft with 4 MK-82 low drag general-purpose bombs.

Attack Aircraft checks in and receives the situation update followed by the close air support briefing aka the 9-Line brief.

  • JTAC: "Pistol 31, this is Icebox 11, this will be a type 1 control, advise when ready for 9-line."
  • PSTL31: "Icebox 11, Pistol 31 ready to copy."

360 Right 9.1 350 Platoon of infantry dug in CM 367971 Marked by Willy Pete (White Phosphorous) South 900, troops in contact Egress east to DODGE Advise when ready for remarks."

  • PSTL31: "Ready to copy remarks"
  • JTAC: "Final attack heading 285-330. ZSU 23-4 (from the target) north 1000, continuous

suppression, report IP inbound."

  • PSTL31: "350, CM367971, final attack heading 285-330."
  • JTAC: "Readback correct, time on target 50"
  • PSTL 31: "Roger TOT 50"

- Prior to weapon release, each aircraft in the flight will provide the JTAC with and 'IN' call and direction.

  • PSTL 31: "Pistol 31, IP inbound."
  • JTAC: "Pistol 31, continue."
  • JTAC: "Mark is on the deck."
  • PSTL 31: "Contact the mark."
  • JTAC: "From the mark, south 100"
  • PSTL 31: "Pistol 31 IN from the east"
  • JTAC: "Pistol 31, Cleared HOT!"
  • PSTL 31: "Pistol 31 OFF, two away."
  • JTAC: "Pistol 32, from leads hits, West 100."
  • PSTL 32: "Pistol 32 in from the southeast."
  • JTAC: "Pistol 32, cleared HOT."
  • PSTL 32: "Pistol 32 OFF, two away."
  • JTAC: "Pistol 31 32, good hits shack on, target destroyed."
  • JTAC: "Pistol 31, no further tasking - you're cleared off safe, thanks for the work."
  • PSTL 31: "Pistol 31, copies target destroyed - RTB."

Type 2 Control Example

The following scenario provides a step-by-step example of how a Type 2 control may be used for a coordinate-dependent, weapon employment. JTAC callsign 'Icebox 11' Attack aircraft callsign 'Pistol 31'.

JTAC is unable to acquire the target but receives accurate real time targeting information from a scout and that they are troops in contact. The JTAC verifies target location and coordinates through the use of an aircraft - with Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Attack lead aircraft checks in, informs JTAC regarding his onboard capabilities, receives a situation update, and is provided the CAS 9-line briefing.

  • JTAC: "Pistol 31, this is Icebox 11. This will be a Type 2 control, advise when ready for 9-line."
  • PSTL31: "Pistol 31 ready to copy."
  • JTAC: "MAZDA 360 Right 9.9 450

T-80 dug in

NB 8652342745 No mark

South 900, troops in contact Egress east to CHEVY

Advise when ready for remarks.

  • PSTL31: "Ready to copy."
  • JTAC: "Request one GBU-31, Final attack heading 300-345."

NB: Attack aircraft then validates location by cross checking that the position is coincident with the expected target area by using all appropriate means; map plot, onboard targeting systems, digital map, Heads up display symbology, FLIR, radar, etc.

  • PSTL31: "450 NB8652342745, final attack heading 300-345."
  • JTAC: "Readback correct. Report IP inbound, time on target 45."
  • PSTL31: "Roger, TOT 45."
  • PSTL31: "Pistol 31, IP inbound."
  • JTAC: "Continue."
  • PSTL31: "Pistol 31, In from the south."
  • JTAC: "Pistol 31, cleared HOT."

Type 3 Control Example

The following provides a step-by-step example of how a Type 3 control may be used.

A friendly ground unit is in contact with a hostile company of mechanised infantry 1.1km away to the North. A very discernible river conveniently separates friendly forces from the enemy. The ground commander and staff are confident in their situational awareness of friendly force disposition - provided by sound battle tracking, and the commander has authorised the JTAC to determine which type of CAS control best suits the situation. A section of F/A-18s are currently in the CAS stack and have sensors and eyes on the target area verifying the recon team's sighting. Upon consideration of all these factors, the JTAC decides to utilise a Type 3 terminal attack control against the mechanised company. The following 9-line brief is provided to the F/A-18s Callsign 'Cobra 61'.

  • JTAC: "Cobra 61, this is Akimbo 99. This will be a Type 3 control, advise ready for 9-line."
  • CBRA61: "Akimbo 99, Cobra 61 ready to copy."
  • JTAC: "MAZDA 360 9.0 450

Mechanised company in the open NB 922556

Laser code 1111 South 1100

Egress South to MAZDA, advise ready for remarks."

  • CBRA61: "Cobra 61 ready to copy."
  • JTAC: "Cobra61, Expect to engage from time 45-55. Execute attacks north of the river. No attack run-ins from north to south. Recon team callsign 'Lonewolf' is currently 1100m to the south in position to lase targets, as required. Contact Lonewolf on this TAD (frequency), report BHA on this TAD."

NB: Attack aircraft validated target location and cross-checks that the positions is coincident with the expected target area by using all appropriate means; map plot, onboard targeting systems, digital map, heads up display (HUD) symbology, FLIR, radar, etc.

  • CBRA61: "450, NB 922556, execute attacks north of the river with no north to south run-ins, TOT 45-55.
  • JTAC: "Cobra 61, readback correct."

- Attack aircraft establishes communications with recon team and calls established overhead and ready for a target talk-on.

  • CBRA61: "Cobra 61, overhead ready for talk-on."
  • Lonewolf: "Cobra 61, your target is a mechanised company of BDRMs and BMPs with dismounted infantry located on the north side of the river, 100 metres west of the large brown suspension bridge with the burning vehicle about mid-span. Call 'contact' with the bridge."
  • CBRA61: "Cobra 61, contact the bridge with the burning vehicle."
  • Lonewolf: "Cobra 61, the target area is the large staging area west of the bridge, stand by for Laser Mark, Laser to target line 360. Make your run-in 035 to 345 or 055 to 105."
  • CBRA61: "Cobra 61, Spot. Contact several armoured vehicles in a plowed out field, Northwest of the bridge."
  • JTAC: (After monitoring the previous comms) "Cobra 61, cleared to engage from time 45-55, report engagement complete."

- JTAC monitors progress of attack via radio.

Attack aircraft make multiple attacks within the time window while complying with the other restrictions. The attacks continue until time 1255.

  • CBRA61: "Cobra 61 is engagement complete at time 1255, standby for BDA (Battle Damage Assessment)."

"BDA as follows, 5 BDRMs destroyed, 3 BMPs destroyed, multiple light vehicles engaged and significant damage inflicted to entire company. On last sighting, remaining enemy forces were moving northbound into the tree-line."

  • JTAC: "Cobra 61, Akimbo 99 copies all. Good engagement, there is no further requirement this net, g'day!"

Close Air Support Tactics

This section identifies some basic Tactics, Techniques & Procedures (TTP) used by aircrews to conduct CAS. This section describes basic Fixed Wing (FW) CAS aircraft tactics. Tactics are ever changing and must be adapted to the specific situation. Aircrew will ultimately decide aircraft tactics but must ensure the tactics used fall within any constraints/restrictions issued by the JTAC/FAC(A).

Fixed-Wing Tactics

  • (1) Medium/High Altitude Tactics. Medium/high altitude tactics are flown above approximately 8,000 ft above ground level (AGL). High altitude bombing can be described as “bombing with the height of release over 15,000 ft AGL.” These tactics are employed when slant range and altitude can be used to negate local threat systems. For visual deliveries, the local weather conditions must include sufficient visibility and ceilings for the desired/required weapons deliveries to be employed. Terrain must also be considered when selecting employment altitudes. More time may be available for target acquisition, but bombing accuracy with unguided munitions may be degraded.
    • (a) Advantages of medium/high altitude tactics include:
      • 1. All flight members can continuously observe the target area, marks, and hits from other aircraft.
      • 2. Lower fuel consumption and increased time on station.
      • 3. Reduced navigation difficulties.
      • 4. Improved formation control.
      • 5. Improved mutual support.
      • 6. Allows considerable manoeuvre airspace and allows aircrews to concentrate on mission tasks instead of terrain avoidance tasks.
      • 7. Communications between aircrews and control agencies are less affected by terrain.
      • 8. Reduces exposure to AAA and man-portable IR SAMs.
      • 9. More flexibility in attack axis selection.
      • 10. Easier timing of TOT.
    • (b) Disadvantages of medium/high altitude tactics include:
      • 1. Enemy acquisition systems can detect the attack force at long range, allowing the enemy to prepare its air defences.
      • 2. Requires local air superiority.
      • 3. May require high weather ceilings and good visibility when using laser guided or other weapons requiring visual target acquisition by the aircrew (may not be a limiting factor when the ground commander authorizes use of IAMs).
      • 4. May make it difficult for the JTAC to visually acquire the aircraft.
      • 5. Visual target acquisition can be more difficult from higher altitudes and slant ranges.
    • (c) Ingress. The higher altitude of the aircraft often makes receiving situation updates from extended ranges feasible. This enables the aircrew to build SA prior to entering the immediate target area. JTACs/FAC(A)s may route CAS aircraft to the target area via IPs, control points, geographic references, dead reckoning (time, distance, and heading), or a combination of these techniques. JTACs/FAC(A)s should use caution to not send friendly aircraft into uncoordinated adjacent unit airspace or known areas of concentrated enemy air defence. Multiple attack flights can be deconflicted using vertical and horizontal separation.
    • (d) CAS Aircraft Observation and Holding Patterns. When possible, CAS aircraft should be given enough airspace to hold in an area of relatively low AAA activity that provides a good position to observe the target area. Considerations for holding patterns and altitude selection include: adjacent unit operations, weather conditions such as sun position and clouds, terrain and threat locations and activity, and other attack aircraft either on station or inbound. Typical holding patterns include the following:
      • 1. Orbit: A circular pattern anchored on a waypoint or visual reference. (Best achieved in the VRS F/A-18 by CPL SEQ on the CP and un-boxing [AUTO] waypoint selection).
      • 2. Racetrack: An oval holding pattern with straight legs of at least 10 miles in length and with standard-rate 180 degree turns on each end. Bomber aircraft may require holding between 10-40 miles from the target, with 10-15 mile legs.
    • 3. Wheel Orbit: Circle around the designated target. Appropriate for nonlinear battlefields with “pockets” of enemy activity.
    • (e) Attack. Types of Delivery:
      • 1. Level Deliveries: Used for guided and unguided free-fall weapons. Release points may have bomb ranges outside of visual range. Because of the long bomb ranges and weapons profiles, nose position may not be indicative of where weapons will impact.
      • 2. Dive Deliveries: Used for guided, unguided, and forward firing ordnance, these dive deliveries typically use dive angles of 15 to 60 degrees. Most modern fighter aircraft delivery systems incorporate some type of continuously computed impact point (CCIP) display. CCIP allows the aircrew to accurately deliver ordnance without having to fly predictable wings level passes.
      • 3. Dive Toss: These deliveries provide increased standoff by using aircraft systems to compute release points similar to loft deliveries. The target is designated in the weapon system’s computer by the aircrew at an extended slant range with the aircraft in a dive. The weapon is then released as the aircraft’s dive angle is decreased.
CAS phase.jpg
  • (2) Low/Very Low Altitude Tactics. Low/very low altitude tactics are flown below approximately 8,000 ft AGL. Low altitude bombing can be described as bombing with the height of release between 500 and 8,000 ft AGL. Very low can be described as a height below 500 ft AGL. These tactics are employed when threat system capabilities and/or weather conditions preclude aircraft operating at higher altitudes.
    • (a) Advantages of low/very low altitude tactics include:
      • 1. Decreases enemy acquisition systems ability to detect the attack force at long range, decreasing the enemy’s time available to prepare its air defenses.
      • 2. May be used when local air superiority has not been achieved.
      • 3. May be used with low weather ceilings and poor visibility.
      • 4. Degrades enemy ground control intercept radar coverage, denying intercept information to enemy fighters and forcing enemy aircraft to rely on visual or onboard acquisition systems.
      • 5. May improve target acquisition and accuracy of weapons delivery due to shorter slant ranges at low altitude.
      • 6. May allow easier assessment of aircraft geometry relative to the target/friendlies during CAS terminal attack control.
    • (b) Disadvantages of low/very low altitude tactics include:
      • 1. Navigation is demanding and requires a high level of aircrew skill (navigation is easier for aircraft equipped with INS or GPS).
      • 2. Terrain avoidance tasks and formation control become primary tasks, decreasing time to concentrate on mission tasks.
      • 3. Observation of the target area, the marks, and hits from other aircraft limited to the attack.
      • 4. Higher fuel consumption and decreased time on station.
      • 5. Terrain may reduce communications effectiveness between aircrews and control agencies, such as the JTAC due to LOS limitations.
      • 6. Attack timing and geometry are more critical than in higher altitude tactics.
      • 7. Exposes aircraft and aircrew to small arms, MANPADS, and AAA.
    • (c) Ingress. Aircrews, JTACs/FAC(A)s, and air controllers select routes that avoid known threat weapon envelopes. Formations are used to complicate enemy radar resolution and improve lookout capability against enemy fighters. Aircrews plot, brief, and study the ingress routes to gain the maximum advantage from terrain masking. Entry should be delayed into a heavily defended target area until the aircrew has a clear understanding of the mission. The expected threat intensity and sophistication influence the selection of ingress tactics. Normally, control of CAS flights is handed over to the JTAC/FAC(A) at the control point.

Attack. During low/very low altitude attacks, many of the same considerations apply as in high/medium altitude attacks. However, aircrews will have less time to acquire the target and position their aircraft for a successful attack. When planning ordnance and attack profiles, consider the requirement for fragmentation pattern avoidance in the low altitude environment. The final run-in from the IP to the target is the most crucial phase of the CAS mission. Aircrew tasks intensify as the aircrew must follow a precise timing and attack profile. The terrain dictates the type of formation flown by the attack element. Figure 10. illustrates the attack phase of a typical FW CAS mission.

Terms and Definitions

  • forward air controller (airborne). A specifically trained and qualified aviation officer who exercises control from the air of aircraft engaged in close air support of ground troops. The forward air controller (airborne) is normally an airborne extension of the tactical air control party. A qualified and current forward air controller (airborne) will be recognized across the Department of Defence as capable and authorized to perform terminal attack control. Also called FAC(A).
  • joint terminal attack controller. A qualified (certified) Service member who, from a forward position, directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other offensive air operations. A qualified and current joint terminal attack controller will be recognized across the Department of Defense as capable and authorized to perform terminal attack control. Also called JTAC.
  • time on target. The actual time at which munitions impact the target. Also called TOT.
  • time to target. The number of minutes and seconds to elapse before aircraft ordnance impacts on target. Also called TTT.
  • terminal attack control. The authority to control the manoeuvre of and grant weapons release clearance to attacking aircraft.
  • terminal control.
    • 1. The authority to direct aircraft to manoeuvre into a position to deliver ordnance, passengers, or cargo to a specific location or target. Terminal control is a type of air control.
    • 2. Any electronic, mechanical, or visual control given to aircraft to facilitate target acquisition and resolution.
  • terminal guidance.
    • 1. The guidance applied to a guided missile between midcourse guidance and arrival in the vicinity of the target.
    • 2. Electronic, mechanical, visual, or other assistance given an aircraft pilot to facilitate arrival at, operation within or over, landing upon, or departure from an air landing or airdrop facility.

Non-CAS Procedures

Position report whilst enroute

[Callsign], is XX [kilometers], [South, East, North, West] of [reference can be visual/geographical if operating in small area at low speeds. Reference should be from point on map], Angels xx[altitude in hundreds of meters], tracking xxx [compass bearing or significant map point], at xxx [speed in kmph].

Position report whilst holding

[Callsign], is [holding point name or grid reference if holding at no significant point], Angels xx[altitude in hundreds of meters], at xxx [speed in kmph].

Check in

Check in is done between a team or formation of aircraft to verify all aircraft are on frequency and within range. Flight lead will initiate the call with, “[Callsign]’s Check in”, and the wingmen will respond with their assigned number.

  • Cannon 1: Cannon’s, check in.
  • Cannon 2: "Two"
  • Cannon 3: "Three"
  • Cannon 4: "Four"

Fence in

After check in and the formation of aircraft are marching to the same beat, flight lead will commence the fence-in. This is the call to signal all pilots and crew to be battle ready, to check weapons, Master-Arm Hot. No response is required. It is the call before flight lead will check in with the FAC. “[Callsign]’s, FENCE-IN” Cannon 1: Cannon’s, FENCE-IN

Requesting Picture

Picture is requested by air elements to a FAC, whether it is ground, or air based reconnaissance, in order to obtain information presently occurring in the mission. After requesting picture the FAC may give updates with no requirement to engage, call for CAS as documented in ‘CAS: Joint Procedures for Forward Air Control’ or provide information on enemy air hostiles that the pilots can then decide on whether they are equipped to engage.

Providing and Obtaining Picture to Hostile Air

  • Air asset: [FAC Callsign], this is [Air asset callsign], request picture.
  • FAC Callsign: [Air asset callsign], this is [FAC Callsign], [How many groups of hostile/s], [How many kilometers the most distant hostiles are from Air asset], first group [closest hostile/s], bullseye [heading reference from air asset to first group of hostile/s], [distance to first group of hostiles in km’s], [how many hostiles are in first group].


  • Cannon 1: Wedgetail, this is Cannon, request Picture.
  • Wedgetail: Cannon, this is Wedgetail, Two groups, range sixty, first group, bullseye three-four-zero, forty, single hostile.
  • Cannon 1: Cannon copy through for, three-four-zero, forty, hostile. Cannon commits.

Air asset will then maneuver to and defeat hostiles. After the air asset confirms to the FAC that the hostile has been destroyed the FAC will provide information on other hostile groups.

  • Wedgetail: Cannon, this is Wedgetail, target remaining hostile, bearing three-zero, fourteen k.
  • Cannon 1: Cannon copy, three-zero, fourteen k.

Air-to-ground Non-CAS engagements

Some missions may require air assets to engage ground targets, whether it is infantry, armour, buildings or marine vessels. Air assets are always required to act hastily and aggressively on these targets, but during critical time scenarios when a target needs to be destroyed quickly, when friendly and collateral damage can be avoided due to high level intel, an abbreviated radio procedure follows. It is not used to call in CAS and is usually only utilized within the Air Force when the FAC is an airborne unit, ACO or EWO. Friendly ground elements and civilians should be at least 5km’s away from the target.

  • FAC Callsign: [Air asset callsign], this is [FAC Callsign], [target type and count], [target location from air asset], [current status of target], Engage Engage.


  • Wedgetail: Cannon, this is Wedgetail, Single Boat, target location, three k North of bullseye on a North-East heading, Engage Engage.
  • Cannon 1: Cannon copy, cleared to intercept and engage single ship.

Air Engagements

After receiving location and mission situation from the FAC or ACO, attention should be made to the radar. Radar is going to give the pilot information on where the hostile aircraft are. Since radar range in ARMA cannot be changed, checking the map intermittently is recommended. When the red triangle appears on the radar, the pilot has radar contact. Due to the lack of information the radar gives you, altitude, heading and speed of the contact is unknown. Monitor the HUD whilst making nose pitch adjustments on track to the contact to find the altitude of the contact. The air asset may choose to use AMRAAM without needing to ever visually see and tally the target. Eventually the pilot will be close enough to the contact to visually sight it and tally. The pilot will transmit on the ‘air frequency’ when he/she changes position, has radar contact, tally’s another aircraft, launches or fires a weapon, and whenever the pilot deems necessary to give out information that will aid other Pilots/ACO/FAC’s situational battle awareness. F/A-18F Pilot/ACO Communications without Tally:

  • Cannon ACO: Radar contact, target for three-four-zero, forty, Cannon target.
  • Cannon Pilot: Confirm sorted.
  • Cannon ACO: Sorted, shoot.
  • Cannon Pilot: FOX THREE [Launch of AMRAAM]

Target is destroyed.

  • Cannon ACO: FOX THREE Kill.

F/A-18F Pilot/ACO Communications with Tally:

  • Cannon ACO: Radar contact, target for three-zero, fourteen k, Cannon target.

Cannon have no remaining AMRAAM and need to get closer to engage.

  • Cannon ACO: Tally one, right, two o’clock high, one k.
  • Cannon Pilot: Tally FOX TWO engage.
  • Cannon ACO: FOX TWO Kill, hostile destroyed.

F/A-18F Pilot/ACO Communications attack ground target:

  • Cannon ACO: Cannon Contact target boat.
  • Cannon Pilot: Confirm ground weapons selected.
  • Cannon ACO: Affirm, GBU12’s selected. Cleared to release.
  • Cannon Pilot: Contact boat, two o’clock, four k, tracking north east, rolling in.
  • Cannon ACO: PICKLE/BOMBS GONE [Release of bomb]

Aircraft Formations & Handling


Formation flying is the disciplined flight of two or more aircraft under the command of a flight leader. Military pilots use formations for mutual defense, concentration of firepower and improvement aerodynamic characteristics. 39BAF will focus on one popular formation at present.

Finger – four formation


The "Finger-four" formation (also known as the "four finger formation"), is a flight formation used by fighter aircraft that consists of four aircraft, and four of these formations can be combined into a squadron formation. The formation consists of a flight of four aircraft, composed of a "lead element" and a "second element", each of two aircraft. When viewing the formation from above, the positions of the planes resemble the tips of the four fingers of a human right hand (without the thumb), giving the formation its name. The lead element is made up of the flight leader at the very front of the formation and one wingman to his rear left. The second element is made up of an additional two planes, the element leader and his wingman. The element leader is to the right and rear of the flight leader, followed by the element wingman to his right and rear. Both the flight leader and element leader have offensive roles, in that they are the ones to open fire on enemy aircraft while the flight remains intact. Their wingmen have a defensive role — the flight wingman covers the rear of the second element and the element wingman covers the rear of the lead element. Four of these flights can be assembled to form a squadron formation which consists of two staggered lines of fighters, one in front of the other. Each flight is usually designated by a color (i.e. Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green).


There are five main things which a pilot must remain conscious of when contemplating an aerial engagement, of which, getting and keeping sight is the most important. In Southeast Asia, over 85% of all kills are attributed to the attacker spotting and shooting the defender without ever being seen. Structural limitations of both the attacking and defending fighters must be taken into account, such as thrust-to-weight ratio, wing loading, and the "corner speed" (the maximum/minimum speed at which the aircraft can attain the best turning performance). Variable limitations must also be considered, such as turn radius, turn rate, and the specific energy of the aircraft. Position of aircraft must quickly be assessed, including direction, angle off tail (the angle between flight paths), and closing speed. Also, the pilot must be aware of his wingman’s position, and maintain good communication.

A pilot in combat attempts to conserve his aircraft’s energy through carefully timed and executed manoeuvres. By using such manoeuvres, a pilot will often make tradeoffs between the fighter’s potential energy (altitude), and kinetic energy (airspeed), to maintain the energy-to-weight ratio of the aircraft, or the "specific energy". A manoeuvre such as the "low yo-yo" trades altitude for airspeed to gain closure on an enemy, and to decrease turn radius. The opposite manoeuvre, a "high yo-yo", trades speed for height, literally storing energy in "the altitude bank", which allows a fast moving attacker to slow his closing speed.

An attacker is confronted with three possible ways to pursue an enemy, all of which are vital during chase. "Lag pursuit" happens in a turn when the nose of the attacker’s aircraft points behind an enemy’s tail. Lag pursuit allows an attacker to increase or maintain range without overshooting. "Lead pursuit" in a turn occurs when the nose of the attacking aircraft points ahead of the enemy. Lead pursuit is used to decrease the distance between aircraft, and during gun attacks where the cannons must be aimed, not at where the defender is, but where he will be when the bullets get there. "Pure pursuit" happens when the nose of the attacker points directly at the defender. Pure pursuit is when most missiles will be fired, and is the hardest position to maintain. These are known as pursuit curves.

The turning battle of a dogfight can be executed in an infinite number of geometric planes. Pilots are encouraged to keep their manoeuvres out of the strictly vertical and horizontal planes, but to instead use the limitless number of oblique planes, which is much harder for an adversary to track. This infinite number of planes around a fixed point about which the aircraft turns is termed the "post and bubble". A fighter that can maintain position between an aircraft and its imaginary post cannot be attacked by that aircraft. The imaginary bubble, however, is misshapen by gravity, causing turns to be much tighter and slower at the top, and wider and faster at the bottom, and is sometimes referred to as a "tactical egg".

The manoeuvres employed by the attacker can also be used by the defender to evade, or gain a tactical advantage over his opponent. Other components may also be employed to manoeuvre the aircraft, such as yaw, drag, lift, and thrust vectors. A key factor in all battles is that of "nose-tail separation". While getting close enough to fire a weapon, an attacker must keep his aircraft's nose far enough away from the tail of the defender to be able to get a good aim, and to prevent an overshoot. The defender, likewise, will use every manoeuvre available to encourage an overshoot, trying to change his own role to that of attacker.

It’s suggested to take time to study the maneuvers below.


  • Combat spread
  • Pitchback
  • Bell Tailslide
  • Split S
  • Immelmann turn
  • Thach Weave
  • Scissors
  • Chandelle


  • High Yo-Yo
  • Low Yo-Yo
  • Lag Displacement Roll (High-G Barrel Roll)
  • Pugachev's Cobra
  • Pugachev's Turn a.k.a. Cobra Turn
  • Kulbit
  • Herbst maneuver


Communication in military combat is essential to successfully execute a plan. It ensures safety, keeps everyone focused on their responsibilities, and builds awareness in rapidly changing environments. Speed and brevity in combat communication is essential, but just as important is clarity. If a message is not understood or need clarifying, talking in plain English to make the message understood can negate the use of brevity works and terminology.

In aviation, ICAO is the international governing body, which employs the NATO phonetic alphabet. It should be familiar and is essential during all combat communications.


Operational definitions:

  • Affirm - "Confirm" or "Yes", used in Aviation. Some air arms of military forces also use a "double click" sent over the radios by keying the mic twice to produce a "--" like Morse code, this is usually used when the pilot is unable to talk due to heavy workload or stress.
  • Negative - No
  • Cleared - Requested action is authorized (no engaged/support roles are assumed).
  • Out - I have finished talking to you and do not expect a reply
  • Over - I have finished talking and I am listening for your reply.
  • Roger/Received - Indicates aircrew understands the radio transmission; does not indicate compliance or reaction.
  • Go ahead/Send - Send your transmission.
  • Wilco - Will comply with received instructions.
  • Unable - cannot do the instruction sent.
  • Read you five - I understand what you say, volume and clarity is good.
  • Wait/Standby - Pause for the next transmission. This does not usually entail staying off the air until the operator returns as they have used the word 'Out' which indicates the transmission has ended. The net is now free for other traffic to flow but users should be aware that the previous call sign may re-initiate a call as per their 'Wait out'.
  • Say again - Please repeat your last message
  • Break - Break in messages without ending the transmission or break in transmission without ending the message
  • Break-Break - Signals to all listeners on the frequency, the message to follow is priority. Almost always reserved for emergency traffic or in NATO forces, an urgent 9 line or *Frag-O. Note: during combat it indicates imminent danger and to break of formation or pursuit.

Combat definitions:

  • Abort - Directive to cease action/attack/event/mission.
  • Action - Directive to initiate a briefed attack sequence or maneuver.
  • Alpha Check - Request for bearing and range to described point.
  • Angles - Height of aircraft in thousands of feet. ie Angels Six = 600 meters in ARMA
  • Anchor - Orbit about a specific point; ground track flown by tanker. Information call indicates a turning engagement about a specific location.
  • Arm/Armed - Select armament (safe/hot), or armament is safe/hot.
  • Authenticate - To request or provide a response for a coded challenge.
  • Blind - No visual contact with friendly aircraft; opposite of term "VISUAL."
  • Break (Up/Down/Right/Left) - Directive to perform an immediate maximum performance turn in the indicated direction. Assumes a defensive situation.
  • Bullseye - An established reference point from which the position of an aircraft can be determined.
  • Check 6 - Look behind you for enemy/friendly aircraft.
  • Check high/low – Same as check 6, however checking for aircraft above or below you.
  • Check Check Check – Cease fire
  • Clean - No radar contacts; used to confirm a good battle damage check (i.e., no air-to-surface ordnance remaining on the wingman's aircraft).
  • Cleared Dry - Ordnance release not authorized.
  • Cleared Hot - Ordnance release is authorized.
  • Closing - Bandit/bogey/target is getting closer in range.
  • Contact - Radar/IR contact at the stated position; should be in bearing, range, altitude (BRA), Bullseye, or geographic position format.
  • Defensive (Spike/Missle/SAM/Mud/AAA) - Aircraft is in a defensive position and maneuvering with reference to the stated condition. If no condition stated maneuvering is with respect to A/A threat.
  • Engaged - Maneuvering with the intent of achieving a kill. If no additional information is provided (bearing, range, etc.), ENGAGED implies visual/radar acquisition of target
  • Fence - Boundary separating hostile and friendly area.
  • FOX - Air-to-air weapons employment.
  • FOX TWO - Simulated/actual launch of infrared-guided missile.
  • FOX THREE - Simulated/actual launch of AMRAAM/Phoenix missile.
  • GUNS - An air-to-air or air-to-surface gunshot.
  • Joker - Fuel state above Bingo at which separation/bugout/event termination should begin.
  • Kill - Directive to commit on target with clearance to fire; in training, a fighter call to indicate kill criteria have been fulfilled.
  • Low - Target altitude below 3km AGL
  • No Joy - Aircrew does not have visual contact with the target/bandit; opposite of term "TALLY."
  • Picture - Situation briefing which includes real-time information pertinent to a specific mission.
  • Pickle (Bombs gone) – Dropping of guided or unguided bomb.
  • RIFLE - AGM-65 launch.
  • Sorted - Criteria have been met which ensure individual flight members have separate contacts; criteria can be met visually, electronically (radar) or both. Final radar lock taken.
  • Stack - Two or more groups/contacts/formations with a high/low altitude separation in relation to each other.
  • Tally - Sighting of a target/bandit; opposite of "NO JOY".
  • Visual - Sighting of a target/bandit; opposite of "NO JOY".


A callsign is use to differentiate in communications who the message is directed at at from. A flight of aircraft with the same tasks will be given the same callsign. The aircraft with the same callsign must be in the same or similar performance category.

  • 1st SQN & 6th SQN Amberley Super Hornet Callsigns:


  • 37th SQN Richmond C130 Callsigns: