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Communication Conventions for Air Squadrons

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  • Communication Conventions for Air Squadrons

    Communication discipline is critically important in an air squad. Pilots are already a chatty bunch, and things are way too hectic and fluid to tolerate loose comm procedures. Large air squads can easily succumb to communication overload when things heat up, and a pilot who can't coordinate with his squad is probably not going to last long if things go pear shaped.

    Our air squads have some informal conventions for cutting down on com chatter already, but I think we could probably cut down chatter even more by evaluating and refining that. If we practise the highest information density communication we can most of the time, hopefully we'll keep to those habits when things get crazy and not get too loose with our tongues when we need clear communications the most.

    So, to start things off, here's my proposed list of verbal callouts. The format I'm using here is anything in parenthesis is a wildcard, while anything in angle brackets is an optional addition. All callsigns are in the form of (squadname) (personal number within squad), though given that we generally only run a single squad as air maybe the squad name isn't necessary. Height is either high, low, or on the ground, or omitted if at a "mid" height or not an air target.

    Form: "(Target type and count if >1) spotted, (direction) (height), <landmark reference> <target heading information>, <my callsign engaging/moving to engage>"
    Eg: "Mossie spotted, south and high, over the tech plant heading east, Alpha 6 moving to engage"
    Purpose: Calling out a target with enough information for other squad members to find it, as well as whether or not you're engaged with it. This also works for ground targets.

    Form "(my callsign) RTB"
    Eg: "Bravo 8 RTB"
    Purpose: Let your squad know you're heading back to a resupply point and will not be available for several minutes.

    Form: "(Callsign) under attack, (direction) (height) <landmark reference> <current heading>, need assistance"
    Eg: "Delta 2 under attack, south over the canyon heading north, need assistance"
    Purpose: Assistance request that gives your squad enough information to find you and pick you out in a crowd for help. Your number is essential here, since that's very visible on the HUD

    Form: "(Friendly Callsign), (target type and count if >1) on your six, <your callsign moving to assist>"
    Eg: "Charlie 7, enemy Scythe on your six, Charlie 2 moving to assist."
    Purpose: Let a teammate know he has an enemy behind him so he can perform evasive manuevers, and optionally let him know you'll be flying to help out.

    Form: "(Callsign) down, <information about timer or resource constraints>"
    Eg: "Alpha 6 down, 2 minutes on Reaver"
    Purpose: Let your teammates know when you're out of commission and how long it'll be before you're back, as well as allowing the SL to give spawn and asset aquisition orders.

    Form: "Enemy AA (direction) <landmark reference>"
    Eg: "Enemy AA east on the hill"
    Purpose: Call out AA with sufficient information to allow your squad to avoid contact with it.

    Form: "(Friendly callsign), (callsign) on your left wing/right wing/six"
    Eg: "Alpha 1, Alpha 9 on your left wing"
    Purpose: Allow a teammate to know you're flying in formation with them, both so they can be aware of you for purposes of manuevers, and so they're aware that they'll have an immediate assist if they move to engage or are engaged

    Alright, I'm sure I've missed some, and there's definitely some room for improvement here. A lot of these are pretty wordy. In particular, I haven't really touched on any commands an SL would want to give to his squadron, or that squad members would want to feed back to him.

    Suggestions and feedback please!

  • #2
    Re: Communication Conventions for Air Squadrons

    Agree with you regarding importance of communications and think your suggestions are generally really good.
    Air comms do get crazy, and it is something we should address.
    For instance, I agree with a standard Contact report, like: “[object spotted],[direction],[height].” Include the references {on the road, over the canyon, etc.] if there is time, or it is not immediately clear. I have used this for months to good effect in my bomber.

    You nailed half of it; speaking clearly and concisely conveying necessary information (Accuracy/brevity/clarity of communication).

    The other half is being able to sit silently until speaking is needed. The thing about communications discipline is it requires the ability to literally keep restrain yourself from saying anything. (Or from keying your microphone at least, say whatever you want as long as you don’t transmit.) This is most often the harder thing for players to learn.
    The question foremost in my mind is "what will bring the most tactical fun to the server?"


    • #3
      Re: Communication Conventions for Air Squadrons

      Totally agreed. There's something to be said about loosening up the comms, though. We're here to have fun, and friendly banter is part of that. People need to be able to switch on a dime, though.

      This would largely be a squad leader thing, I think. The SL lets everyone know when it's okay to jaw off for a bit ("relax comms" maybe, or maybe even just give an informal order along the lines of "alright, guys, we can relax comm discipline for now" to emphasize the transition), and then gives the "clear comms" order when things heat up again. If a squad member gives a contact report, it'd also be an automatic cue to hold comms.

      Another concern I've got here is quickly communicating these requirements to blues when they join the squad. So far we've had pretty good success in just leading by example. If everyone is using this sort of comm discipline (and calling it out when people misuse it) the new players pick it up pretty quick. But it'd still be great to have a rock solid way of pulling people into it.

      Maybe instituting roll calls would be helpful? Go down the list and have everyone call out their callsign, aircraft, loadout, and current status (eg: "Bravo 6, Dogfighter Reaver, on station over tech plant"). It'd require a strict VOIP only policy for the air squadron, but that's probably for the best anyways.




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