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"Air Combat" Compiled and Adapted by: KalaniJ

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  • [GUIDE] "Air Combat" Compiled and Adapted by: KalaniJ

    Air Combat

    The purpose of this is to provide solid adaptations of known military tactics in the use of Air Assets. Much of this below are word transposed versions from the references provided at the end of this manual and are not my original ideas. Those interested in reading my references are highly encouraged too as you might devise a similar but different adaptation from the texts. This will only increase your personal knowledge but add more tools to the tools belt of our pilots and ground commanders as we seek to overcome any disadvantages of our faction and enjoy a fun but tactical gaming experience. Hopefully with this put into play we can achieve air superiority over our adversaries. Air superiority,
    according to Joint Publication (JP) 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, is “that degree of dominance in the air battle of one force over another that permits the conduct of operations by the former and its related land, sea, and air forces at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by the opposing force.” Now lets be Tactical Gamers.

    “Just as tanks have always been the most effective weapon against tanks, helicopters are the most efficacious means of fighting helicopters. Use of helicopters by both warring sides will inevitably lead to clashes between them. Like tank battles of past wars, a future war between well equipped armies is bound to involve helicopters.”
    —Colonel M. Belov
    **Soviet Army
    **Published in Soviet Military Review

    The primary mission of an air asset is to destroy enemy forces using fire, maneuver, and shock effect. To accomplish this mission the air asset attacks the enemy to destroy, force attrition, disrupt, or delay.
    The attack aircraft fully exploits the vertical dimension of the battlefield. Aggressive terrain flight techniques allow the commander to rapidly place the air assets at the decisive place at the optimum time. An intimate knowledge of aerodynamics is essential for the survivor in an aerial duel. The thinking, well-armed opponent can counter every move. The aircrew must understand intimately its own aircraft and armament capabilities as well as those of the enemy. Head-on attacks are dangerous, but maybe less so if the opponent’s helicopter has less power, weapons range, tactical training, or maneuverability. The aircrew has to learn how to do a 360-degree search, looking for weapons fire, “Q” Spots, shadows, Silhouettes, and so on. Avoiding detection is another imperative. Patrol location, extreme altitudes (low or high), and applying camouflage help hide the aircraft. Once the aircraft discerns the air threat, the pilot must decide to engage or avoid it. When contact is made, the reactions of leaders in the first few seconds or minutes may determine the fight more than the skill of the pilot.

    The optimal time to engage an enemy is when they are actively firing at a friendly unit. Most crews lose situational awareness at this point because they are concentrating solely on their target. Diminished situational awareness allows the now ambushing force to enter optimal engagement range, engage, then egress, all the time remaining unhindered by concentrated enemy fire. Aerial |ambushes cause a great deal of confusion and further loss of situational awareness as armor and aircraft alike suddenly explode for no apparent reason.

    For evasive actions to be executed successfully, excellent team work is required from the members: of the aircrew. The greater the range at which an enemy fighter is spotted, the better the chance the pilot has to plan and execute timely evasive maneuvers. Timing of evasive action is of critical importance. Evading too early may not provide any advantage to your commanders; taking action too late will be fatal.

    “[The Japanese] are excellent stick-and-rudder men, but their weakness is that all their maneuvers are evenly co-ordinated. They make use of sharp turns and acrobatic maneuvers, seldom using skids, slips, or violent uncoordinated maneuvers in their evasive tactics.”
    Lt. Colonel Gerald R. Johnson, USAAF
    22 Victories, WW-II


    The Five Cardinal Rules of Air to Air Combat
    Seeing the Enemy Aircraft First. This factor has long been established as an element of survival in any combat situation. The advantages in seeing the enemy first are in large measure self-evident and their importance cannot be overemphasized.
    Fire as close as you can. The main advantage you have over the enemy is your damage output. Don't give up this advantage by engaging before you are at a range where you can put rounds on target effectively unless you have no choice. Firing what would essentially be warning shots by missing or plinking your target is only inviting the enemy to live long enough to maneuver.
    Fire first. This goes hand-in-hand with the second rule. Keep an eye on your mini-map and constantly scan for visual contact so you can locate and engage the enemy at optimum range. If you're quicker on the draw and get the first shot in, you have a good chance of winning.
    Lose sight, lose fight. Air-to-air fights take place very quickly. If you get into a position where you can't see your opponent, you're in big trouble—especially if the enemy can see you. Once the fight is on, take great care to use the third person view to maintain visual contact. As long as you can see the enemy, you have a good chance of killing the target.
    Mission First. One of the major concerns regarding armed assets equipped for air-to-air combat is the pilots chasing enemy air targets instead of performing their assigned ground attack or support role. Part of any soldier's mission has always been self-defense, so if you're attacked by an enemy air asset, you should defend yourself. Don't get so carried away, however, that you go hunting for kills—unless you have completed your assigned mission.

    “You can have computer sights or anything you like, but I think you have to go to the enemy on the shortest distance and knock him down from point-blank range. You'll get him from in close. At long distance, it's questionable.”
    Colonel Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, GAP
    World's Leading Ace, Luftwaffe
    352 Victories, WW-II

    “Go in close, and then when you think you are too close, go on in closer.”
    Major Thomas B. "Tommy" McGuire, USAAF
    Second Leading U.S. Ace, WW-II
    38 Victories

    Radio Nets
    Successful employment of the air assets depends on its ability to communicate with all echelons of command. The primary means of tactical communications within the attack aircraft is the squad net. The use of platoon voice and Teamspeak in larger groups helps reduce the interference and cross chatter. Teamspeak should be primarily used by the commander's to control the various platoons. The air force commander normally communicates from his aircraft to ground commanders using the platoon or Teamspeak voice nets. Those not in the command position should utilize the Teamspeak net to communicate with their wing men and be in a channel just the two of them. This way the ebb and flow of information between them can be constant and not interfere with the larger voice nets. Squad leaders are encourage to utilize Teamspeak to conduct overhead tasking and not “Override” squads from communicating with each other. This will also allow for greater passing of information between the leadership and more candid assessments.

    Alert Terminology
    The following alert terminology is commonly used:
    • Target. A crew member has spotted a ground target.
    • Bogey. A crew member has spotted an unidentified airborne target.
    • Bandit. A crew member has spotted an identified hostile airborne
    • Gunner, target. The pilot wants to hand a target over to the
    copilot/gunner or door gunner.
    • Pilot, target. The gunner wants to hand a target over to the pilot.
    Note: Crews may substitute “bogey” or “bandit” for “target.”
    • Multiple targets. The pilot/crew has spotted more than one ground
    • Multiple bandits (bogeys). The pilot/crew has spotted more than one
    airborne target.

    Movement Commands
    6-125. The movement commands include—
    • Break. Immediate action command to perform a maneuver to deviate
    from present ground track; the word right or left will follow it.
    • Hold—
    ƒ At hover. Maintain present hover altitude and heading.
    ƒ In flight. Maintain airspeed, altitude, and heading.
    • Slide. Horizontal movement of aircraft followed by a direction: left,
    right, forward, or back.
    • Stop. Go no further; halt present action.
    • Turn—
    ƒ At hover. Perform pedal turn right or left.
    ƒ In flight. Turn right or left from current ground track.
    • Stop Turn. Terminates turn. Pilot holds heading/altitude present at
    stop turn command.

    Target location determines where a potential target is on the
    battlefield. Locating a target occurs as a result of observation and detection
    during crew search. Target location allows a crew member to fix or locate a
    target for the other crew members; for example, a pilot locating a target for
    his gunner. The clock method and compass methods are the fastest methods used to
    get the gunner or surrounding aircraft on target.

    The crew bases 12 o’clock on the direction of aircraft movement while traveling and on aircraft orientation or the nose of the aircraft when stationary; for example, “Scythe, nine o’clock.” please note that this is Relative to the orientation on your own aircraft and will not work if the other pilots around you are not intimately familiar with your orientation.

    The crew bases orientation from a known point and gives approximate true compass bearings and rangings; for example, “Sunderer, north of bio lab 500 meters.” please note that this is True bearings to the world and is easily used by those referencing a map or the HUD Compass.

    Crew members can use a map to determine range to target. The platoon / squad leader finds the position of the enemy on the map. He then determines the position of the target of interest. Once he determines the position of the target, he places the appropriate way point to determine range. The range will then display to the units on their HUD with the approximate range being calculated for them.

    Armed air assets use three modes of fire—hover fire, running fire, and
    diving fire.

    Hover fire is any engagement conducted while VTOL jets are pointed primarily down. It may be either stationary or moving.

    Stationary Fire
    Hover engagements occur with the aircraft at stationary hover. Crews
    can deliver both direct and indirect fires during hover fire.

    Moving Fire
    Moving fire is an engagement from a moving aircraft while hovering. Horizontal movement may be in any direction, but some deliberate movement is present. Crews can deliver both air to air and air to ground ordinance during moving fire.
    __________________________________________________ ____________________

    Running fire is an engagement from a moving aircraft while VTOL jets are pointed primarily aft.
    Crews can deliver both air to air and air to ground ordinance during running fire. The
    forward airspeed adds stability to the aircraft and increases the delivery accuracy of weapon systems, particularly rockets.

    Diving fire is a direct-fire engagement from a helicopter that is in a
    diving flight profile according to the aircraft. The airspeed and altitude
    of the aircraft improve the accuracy of engagements, particularly for rockets.
    The following are the advantages of diving fire:
    • Normally, decreased vulnerability to small-arms fire.
    • Increased accuracy because of top down profile of vehicle.
    • Duration in the kill box is drastically reduced due to speed gain and render range.
    • A smaller beaten zone ( Area of Impact) in the target-effect area.

    Terrain Masking
    Terrain flight is the employment of an aircraft in such a manner as to utilize terrain, vegetation, and man made objects to enhance survival by degrading the enemy's ability to visually, optically, and
    electronically detect or locate the aircraft. It involves a constant awareness of the positions and capabilities of enemy weapons and detection means in relation to the flight route and masking terrain.
    Terrain flight is flying close to the earth's surface using low level, contour, or nap-of-the-earth (NOE) flight techniques to counter an enemy's capability to acquire, track, and engage the aircraft. Terrain flying is the only effective technique to counter a high threat environment. When selecting terrain flight routes, detection avoidance and protective cover are the governing factors. Terrain flight route selection planning shall consider the following additional principles
    1. Keep a terrain mass and/or vegetation between the enemy and the aircraft.
    2, In mountainous terrain, use the friendly side below the crest of the ridge line.
    3, In flat to rolling terrain use the lowest contours. Either ground or vegetation contours as appropriate
    4. Avoid avenues of approach which cross over enemy positions.
    5. When paralleling a vegetated area, fly below the crest of the vegetation and close aboard.
    6. Avoid silhouetting the aircraft when crossing ridge lines.
    7. Know the terrain.

    It is desirable to fly in areas where friendly supporting arms are available and the enemies' are not
    available. It is also important to realize that friendly supporting arms will be of the most assistance before any actual aerial engagement (even if it is just a chase). Once the engagement begins it is
    difficult to hit the "bad guys" without hitting the "good guys." The three main types of ground supporting arms are small arms fire, turrets both vehicle mounted and emplaced, and ground to air missiles. An AA MAX is probably the best ground supporting arm against the enemies air assets. The problem is getting a clear shot against the low flying aircraft. As was demonstrated in Vietnam, small arms if coordinated in mass can also be effective against air. The ground to air heat seeking missiles (such as the NS Annihilator) can be very effective against enemy air. However, there are some problems when employed against low flying enemy craft such as the Scythe. It is hard to get a clear shot, there is a lot of terrain background clutter that can be used to ground the missile, and the enemy may fallback upon seeing the lock on indicator. The "TOW" wired-guided missile is primarily a ground to ground antitank missile but could be effective against enemy aircraft under specific conditions. If the enemies aircraft stays in a hover then the TOW has a chance of a kill. However, the TOW cannot follow movement much faster than a tank so normally it would only be useful for distracting the aircraft or possibly scaring him off. In this instance always try to “Pull” the missile in front of your targets nose so the threat crosses their field of view.


    The Reaver is primarily an anti-air platform. Most of this guide is dedicated to the reaver and I have nothing further to add that is not included elsewhere.

    The Liberator is the gunship and pilots should never stray too far from that concept as they bring their guns to bear. The Dahlton cannon is the best air-to-ground anti armor asset we can bring to bear. The Liberator is always best brought into action with dedicated anti-air support in the area. Friendly Reavers and AA MAXes will allow the Liberator to accomplish its primary mission of providing ground supporting fire.

    Turret Positioning.
    It is important to understand the range of view of your turrets. Keeping your turrets on target while not bringing the aircraft into a position of vulnerability cannot be understated. In the Liberator especially render ranges are key. You cannot damage an enemy that is not rendered to you. Vehicles will render further away than infantry. It is important to find that max engagement /render range for your target and maintain a solid sight picture with your turrets. Communication between you and your gunners is key. Please note that proximity chat will only work at slower speeds while in your liberator. Flying perpendicular to the target with the belly towards the enemy is one way to bring those guns to bear. You might also simply fly straight up at slow speeds with your belly towards the target area.

    The Galaxy should be used to rapidly deliver airborne assault troops to disrupt and destroy the enemy using fire, and shock effect. The Galaxy should not be loaded with the expectation of delivering a fully sustainable fighting force. Is the dropped forces are to be fully sustainable a Sunderer must be positioned nearby. Medics and Engineers can only increase time on target.

    Target Approach Vector.
    It is always best to conduct your approach to target from a direction away from the main fighting. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of being rendered and spotted from the enemies forward deployed fighting force, but enemy turrets are least likely to acquire you at max range. If you come under attack and will not make it to the primary drop zone, conduct your airborne assault at the closest available cover to the objective. Your troops assaulting from nearby building or over a ridge line can still be beneficial because if you approached from a new vector the defenders have to divide their attention and firepower to deal with the new threat. If you approached from behind your own lines and dropped early your reinforcements simply took the long way to the front lines.

    Full Infiltrator Drop.
    A full infiltrator drop is to be utilized when disrupting the enemies base of operations is the primary goal. The ability to hack terminals and deny the enemy their own assets, as well as produce confusion in the enemy force should not be underestimated.

    Full MAX Drop.
    A full MAX drop should be utilized when destruction of enemy personnel and assets is the primary goal. This can be used to great effect as a MAX unit has significantly more firepower and health than standard infantry. It is best to drop just behind enemy lines as the split of firepower will allow the primary force to advance under the fire support of the MAX units.

    Full Light Assault Drop
    A full Light Assault drop allows you to conduct true airborne assault operations. With these personnel in your cargo hold you are no longer constrained with the height limit for drops. Light Assault personnel can be dropped from max altitude of 1000M and can utilize their downward thrust to slow and control their descent. This allows the Galaxy to remain out of effective range of all but the most dedicated of anti air assets. This is great for an initial assault and can be used to sow enough confusion to allow for follow up drops of other personnel. Also, Light Assault troops equipped with C4 can be used to take out enemy armor and Sunderer locations with ease. Have them drop out in a more spread out pattern over the enemy armor formation and watch as resource points go up in flames.


    Multiaircraft Operations. Commanders designate formations for the
    company to establish the relationship of one platoon to another in the air, establish the
    concept of where the enemy will be and how the company will react to contact, and
    establish the degree of security desired. The basic attack aviation tactical unit is the two aircraft, Lead/Wingman (L/W)team.

    (1) L/W team movement. Three team techniques of movement are free
    cruise, combat cruise, and combat spread. These techniques are designed to provide
    team security and flexibility, and they are the building blocks of platoon and company
    formations. In each case, the lead aircraft designates the primary direction of travel and
    the wingman maintains his position in relation to the lead aircraft. The general rule for
    the L/W relationship is "follow me and do as I do". Teams are purposely spread out; a
    spread-out team allows the wingman to spend most of his effort searching for threats and
    less time watching the lead aircraft.

    (a) Free cruise. Free cruise is used when teams desire to move
    quickly and maximize the use of terrain for masking. It gives the team freedom to
    maneuver and allows the wingman to provide security for his lead. Free cruise permits
    the wingman to maneuver in the zone extending 45 degrees on either side and to the rear
    of the leader's tail. The wingman should avoid the area directly behind the lead (6 o'clock
    position) because of his inability to provide suppressive fires for lead, his limited forward
    observation, and the possibility that his lead's presence alerted the enemy in his flight

    (b) Combat cruise. Unlike free cruise, combat cruise requires the
    wingman to remain in either right or left cruise and change sides only after being directed
    to do so by the lead aircraft or after he communicates to the lead aircraft his intentions to
    change sides. Using combat cruise, the wingman should fly an arc from 10 to 75 degrees
    aft the lead aircraft (right cruise) or the same approximate location on the other side of
    the lead aircraft (left cruise). The optimum position for the wingman is 45 degrees aft the
    lead aircraft. For planning, the wingman should maintain an approximately 10-rotor
    diameter (rotor tip to rotor tip) separation from his lead. The wingman should avoid the
    area directly behind the lead, as in free cruise. Figure 3-16 shows an example of a
    combat cruise formation.

    (c) Combat spread. The combat-spread is used when enemy contact is
    imminent. This formation promotes security by providing maximum firepower forward
    and overlapping fields of view. It is flown with the wingman in a plus or minus 10-degree
    abeam position on either the left or right side (spread left or spread right) of the
    lead aircraft. Commanders may vary the maximum lateral separation between aircraft based on visibility, maneuver space available, and expected enemy engagement ranges.

    (d) Line formation. A variation on the combat-spread is the line formation. It may be used to facilitate movement into enemy positions. The line formation is formed by placing two teams using the combat-spread formation side-by-side. This technique is also known as "stacking right" or "stacking left."
    The line formation has advantages. It provides excellent firepower forward. It provides a
    wide area of protection to ground elements if used during an overwatch. It also allows the
    maximum number of aircraft to close on an objective in the shortest time. The line
    formation has disadvantages. It provides minimum fires to flanks. It is less secure than
    regular combat spreads because of the lack of depth. It is more difficult to control than
    team combat spreads. It also decreases freedom of maneuver.

    There is normally little tactical advantage for using tight, rigid formations for attack aircraft. Commanders lose their maneuver advantage, and they may jeopardize weapons effectiveness by trying to maintain tight formations during terrain flight near the objective area. In addition, a team's ability to properly execute actions on contact is contingent upon maneuver space and may be significantly hindered by aircraft flying too closely.

    Tactical Formations. The following are example formations for attack
    helicopter platoons and companies. Individual aircraft should move in the same relative position within the formation. This will ensure that each crew knows where to move, who is behind them, and where to observe and direct fires. The four basic formations are staggered column, wedge, combat trail, and echelon. (1) Staggered. The staggered column is normally the formation of choice for movement in the attack platoon and company. This formation allows team integrity, while maintaining separation between elements. The staggered column is used as a general purpose traveling and traveling over watch formation when the terrain allows for dispersion and allows the commander to array his aircraft to the left of right of the lead aircraft, also known as "staggered right" and "staggered left".
    (a) The staggered column formation has advantages. It provides excellent control. It provides excellent firepower to the flanks. It facilitates rapid deployment to other formations. It also facilitates rapid movement. The dispersion and depth increases security against enemy air and ground attacks.
    (b) The staggered column formation has disadvantages. It provides limited firepower forward.
    (2) Wedge. The wedge formation may be used when a platoon or company is providing overwatch for another element (for example, acting as an advanced guard for an air movement) and the terrain is open or rolling. The wedge formation is formed by two combat-cruise formations (a left cruise on the left and a right cruise on the right).
    (a) The wedge has advantages. It permits excellent fire to the front and good fire to each flank when leading ground maneuver formations, other aviation elements, and convoys. It allows the platoon leader excellent observation up front while being covered by a wingman.
    (b) The wedge has disadvantages. It requires lateral space for movement; therefore, it is difficult to use in closed terrain. It may expose the entire platoon to enemy fire simultaneously.
    (3) Combat trail. The combat trail formation is used most often when passing through defiles or close terrain, during air movements, and during movements when speed is required. The combat trail formation is formed by two free-cruise formations (one behind the other).
    (a) The combat trail formation has advantages.
    It allows rapid movement through rugged, closed terrain. It provides ample maneuver
    room for actions on contact. It also is less fatiguing to crews because they do not have to
    concentrate on rigid aircraft orientation, particularly in poor weather.
    (b) The combat trail has disadvantages. It provides minimal firepower forward. It is less secure than other formations because of the lack of depth. It may cause disorientation during night flights due to the lack of depth of field in NVDs. In addition, this is a very difficult formation to maintain during night landings because rate of closure is difficult to judge.
    (4) Echelon. The echelon formation is normally used during traveling overwatch, when speed is required. The echelon formation allows the platoon leader to array his aircraft to the left of right of the lead aircraft. Normally, the platoon leader and his wingman lead, followed by the team leader and wingman. This formation is used in situations the tactical situation does not favor a trail formation, and firepower must be focused forward.
    (a) The echelon formation has advantages. It provides excellent fires to the front. It allows the speed of a combat trail formation with a wider front. It also facilitates rapid deployment to other formations.
    (b) The echelon formation has disadvantages. It limits fires to the front. It is more difficult to maintain orientation than in a combat trail. It also provides less control in restricted terrain.

    “The most important thing is to have a flexible approach. . . . The truth is no
    one knows exactly what air fighting will be like in the future. We can't say
    anything will stay as it is, but we also can't be certain the future will conform
    to particular theories, which so often, between the wars, have proved wrong.”
    Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF
    16 Victories, WW-II and Vietnam Conflict


    Tenets of Commanding Air Operations.

    Success on future battlefields depends on how
    well the tenets of air operations doctrine are applied. These tenets are initiative,
    depth, agility, synchronization, and versatility.

    (1) Initiative. Attack aircraft are offensive weapon systems. They
    provide commanders the means to deliver massed firepower rapidly and accurately, thus
    disorganizing enemy forces and allowing the friendly force to gain or maintain the
    initiative. To be successful, the Air Assets must be integrated into the ground commander's
    scheme of maneuver. This requires that commanders analyze the battlefield and decide
    early where the Air Assets will be employed.

    (2) Depth. The Aerial Attack Force can attack the enemy forces anywhere on the
    battlefield. Commanders must see and use the entire battlefield to strike the enemy and
    prevent it from concentrating forces at a point of its choice. The speed with which attack
    helicopters can mass combat power at chosen points in the battle area allows the force
    commander to influence the battle to a depth that would otherwise be beyond his reach.

    (3) Agility. The mobility and flexibility of attack helicopters expand the
    reach of commanders to all areas of the battlefield. Terrain provides cover and
    concealment for attack aircraft just as it does for armor and infantry; however, it does
    not limit the mobility of the helicopter. The attack aircraft can attack the enemy's flanks and
    rear, thus providing ground forces the time to maneuver and engage enemy forces from
    directions where they are most vulnerable.

    (4) Synchronization. To survive and succeed on the battlefield, the
    attack aircraft must fight as an integrated member of the combined arms team. In combat, the
    fires of other attacking weapons enhance the firepower of the attack aircraft. This
    combined attack strengthens the total force by overcoming limitations found in each
    weapon system. As a result, total combat power is increased and survivability is
    improved. When the enemy is simultaneously faced with an array of armor, infantry, and attack aircraft units, it can no longer concentrate on countering a single set of weapons from one direction at a time. Rather, it is attacked throughout its depth with a variety of weapons.

    (5) Versatility. On today's and tomorrow's battlefields, the tempo of the fight is rapid, violent, and extremely fluid. The air assets primary mission is achieving air superiority and the destruction of enemy armor or mechanized forces. The air assets, however, must be prepared to conduct reconnaissance and security operations. The ability of the air assets to transition smoothly and rapidly is the result of well-led, well trained, and well-equipped forces; high standards; and detailed planning.
    While the air assets can react quickly, it requires as good mission planning in order to ensure victory.

    (1) Movement to contact. A movement to contact is used to gain or
    reestablish contact with the enemy. It may be used when contact with the enemy has
    been temporarily lost, or it may be used to initiate an attack. A movement to contact
    helps develop the situation and maintain the commander's freedom of action. During a
    movement to contact, the air assets operates with ground forces and is critical to the
    success of the advance forces and the main body. A movement to contact often results in
    a meeting engagement; that is, forces engage each other by chance rather than by design.
    As part of the covering force or advance guard, the air assets can destroy forward enemy
    elements identified by reconnaissance, air assets, or ground forces. The mobility and firepower of the attack aircraft will permit the main body commander to overwhelm the enemy and
    maintain the initiative. This means that the commander will not have to pause and
    marshal the necessary ground combat power to attack.

    (2) Hasty attack. A hasty attack is an operation for which a unit has
    not made extensive preparations. It is conducted with the resources immediately
    available to maintain momentum or take advantage of the enemy situation. Hasty
    attacks are normally conducted as a branch to a deliberate attack or a reconnaissance or
    security operation. For attack aircraft, a hasty attack is made on an enemy force to
    retain the momentum of the entire force. Hasty attacks conducted by the air assets are
    made with the foreknowledge of where the battle positions are located. The
    exact time,and the threat to be encountered during the attack, however, are not
    known until shortly before the mission.

    (3) Exploitation. An exploitation usually follows a successful attack and is
    made to take advantage of weakened or collapsed enemy defenses. It prevents the enemy
    from reorganizing a defensive system or conducting an orderly withdrawal. An
    exploitation also is conducted to secure deep objectives. During an exploitation, an
    air asset is employed as part of a larger force. The air asset strikes the enemy's flanks and
    rear areas disrupting its withdrawal and attempts to reorganize. The air asset operates as
    in a movement to contact by following the ground forces and is prepared to conduct hasty
    attacks on counterattacking and withdrawing enemy forces. The air assets can also conduct
    deep attacks to further disrupt the enemy.

    (4) Pursuit. A pursuit is an offensive operation taken after a successful
    attack or developed during an exploitation. The pursuit takes advantage of enemy
    weaknesses and its inability to establish an organized defense. As the enemy attempts to
    disengage, friendly forces maintain relentless pressure in an attempt to destroy enemy
    forces completely. A pursuit requires unrelenting pressure, speed, mobility, and firepower
    to complete the enemy's destruction. The air asset is an essential element in the pursuit.
    As ground forces attempt to maintain contact and flank the enemy, the air
    assault forces can maneuver deep to cut off the enemy as it attempts to withdraw or re-assault. The
    air assault forces also can block entry to relieving enemy forces and can
    attack retreating enemy forces, which further deteriorates their situation. Repeated
    attacks by the air assets will quicken the disintegration of enemy forces and will destroy
    their will to fight. Communication during a pursuit is critical. Commanders must coordinate the
    pursuit by ground forces and the air forces to ensure success during a rapidly changing
    combat environment. Communications may become difficult or be broken. When this
    occurs, commanders must act quickly to reestablish communications and ensure
    coordination between air and ground maneuvers.

    (1) A successful defense requires active and passive elements working
    together to regain the initiative. The objective of a defensive operation is to cause the
    enemy attack to fail; preserve the force, facilities, and installations; control key terrain;
    gain time; or concentrate forces elsewhere. Other objectives may be to retain captured
    terrain and degrade enemy forces so that offensive operations can be resumed. Successful
    defensive operations depend on--
    (a) Synchronizing all available combat capabilities.
    (b) Seizing the tactical initiative locally and then generally as the entire
    force shifts from defense to offense.
    (c) Fighting the enemy throughout the depth of its formations to delay
    and disorganize it and create opportunities for offensive actions.
    (2) The air attack elements normally participates in two types of defense--the mobile
    defense and the area defense. The air assets uses its mobility and long range observation
    and engagement capabilities to deny terrain to the enemy, as well as support the ground
    defense with direct fires.
    (a) Area defense. Air assets normally conduct an area defense when
    directed to defend specified terrain, when the enemy enjoys a mobility advantage over the
    defending force, when well-defined avenues of approach exist, and the defending force has
    sufficient combat power to cover the likely enemy avenues of approach in sector. The
    orientation of the area defense is to deny the enemy designated terrain. Maneuver within
    an area defense usually consists of repositioning between defensive positions or within
    sectors and counterattacks. A perimeter defense is a form of area defense, oriented in all
    (b) Mobile defense. Air assets conduct a mobile defense by allowing
    the enemy force to advance to a point where it is exposed to a decisive attack by a striking
    force. The end state of the mobile defense is destruction of the enemy force. The
    commander conducts a mobile defense by organizing his force into two subunits: a fixing
    force and a striking force. The fixing force shapes the penetration or contains the enemy
    advance, while the striking force conducts the decisive attack.

    “The most important thing in fighting was shooting, next the various tactics
    in coming into a fight and last of all flying ability itself.”
    Lt. Colonel W. A. "Billy" Bishop, RAF
    Probably the leading RAF Ace of WW-I
    72 Victories

    An effective program for unit-level aircraft gunnery is the result of good
    assessment and planning. To ensure successful training, use the following principles.

    1 Set standards. Set and enforce tough, but achievable, standards. Tough standards will generate tough training. Crews must know when they do well. Insist on repetition to achieve a high level of proficiency in required tasks.
    2 Start early. All aspects of the training program must be thoroughly coordinated. Forecast and request personnel and set up training times long before they are needed.
    3 Be thorough. Avoid wasting resource points and training opportunities. Give leaders at all levels the guidance and assets needed to train. Focus the unit on accomplishing the commander’s desired end state.
    4 Be flexible. Be prepared to adjust the training program to the changing needs of the unit. Once assessment, training, and planning stop, the training program stagnates and loses its effectiveness.
    5 Train continually. Train at every opportunity, to bring a unit up to a desired proficiency level. Once accomplished, train continually to maintain that level.

    Realism is the most important factor in gunnery training. Realistic gunnery training can be accomplished by training tough, realistic target acquisition and engagement situations

    A target hit (1 second burst) within the effective range of the system is the standard for cannon and machine-gun engagements.

    Target neutralization is the standard for rocket engagements. Because rockets are
    most effective when fired in mass, the rocket training strategy is to train crews for
    neutralization engagements.

    Suggested Lessons

    1 Advanced switchology. Use the advanced switchology to switch in and out of third person view when acquiring targets and then moving to the engagement phase.

    2 Hover situations. Practice against a ground target, stationary hovering target, and a reactive hovering target from the hover.

    3 Fly-to situations. Practice moving to a known target and engaging from a position of advantage.

    4 Multiple targets, rapid fire. This test has two exercises: the close formation and the spread formation. This is to engage and re-engage mutiple targets by not tracking one but taking targets of opportunity while evading enemy fire.

    5 Multiple targets, ripple fire. This practices closing and neutralizing one enemy out of a group while evading enemy fire.

    6 Marking Target Reference Points. Use platoon and squad waypoints, ground smoke, “Q” spots, and identifiable engagement areas to orient maneuver and fires.

    “I gained in experience with every plane shot down, and now was able to fire in
    a calm, deliberate manner. Each attack was made in a precise manner.
    Distance and deflection were carefully judged before firing. This is not
    something that comes by accident; only by experience can a pilot overcome
    feelings of panic. A thousand missions could be flown and be of no use if the
    pilot had not exchanged fire with the enemy.”
    Major John T. Godfrey, USAAF
    16.33 Victories, WW-II

    1. “Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering” By: Robert L. Shaw
    3. “Air Defense with an Attitude: Helicopter v. Helicopter Combat” By: Lieutenant Colonel Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army Retired, and Major James H. Adams III, U.S. Marine Corps

    Lieutenant Colonel Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army, Retired, is a military analyst in the Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth. He received a B.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso and an M.A. from Kent State University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army Russian Institute, the Defense Language Institute, and the U.S. Air Force War College. He has held a variety of command and staff positions in the continental United States, Europe, and Vietnam.

    Major James H. Adams, U.S. Marine Corps, is an AH-1W pilot at the Marine Corps
    Air Station, New River, North Carolina. He received a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy.
    He has held various operational assignments, including three overseas deployments, and
    he was recently an instructor pilot at the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) where he was responsible for rotary-wing air-to-air tactics.

    4. “MCWP 3-11.4 Helicopterborne Operations” By: U.S. Marine Corps
    5. “FM 1-112 Attack Helicopter Operations” By: Headquarters, Department of the Army

    6. “FM 1-140. Helicopter Gunnery” By: Headquarters, Department of the Army
    7. “[GUIDE] CAS (Close Air Support)” By: Knifewise

  • #2
    Re: "Air Combat" Compiled and Adapted by: KalaniJ

    Nice compilation of tactics, definitely some food for thought.


    • #3
      Re: "Air Combat" Compiled and Adapted by: KalaniJ

      Yes, I agree. I skimmed because tired right now, but I will read it again later when I have the energy to give it the attention it deserves. Good first post, and welcome to the forums! :)
      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


      • #4
        Re: "Air Combat" Compiled and Adapted by: KalaniJ

        Good amount of homework to look at. Thank you.
        In game handle: Steel Scion


        • #5
          Re: "Air Combat" Compiled and Adapted by: KalaniJ

          Some really Good points that Never even occurred to me. Thanks Kalani.




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