• Standard Operating Procedures

    1st Virtual Fighter Wing
    VMFA-294 Standard Operating Procedures
    Certified for DCS World 2.5x
    Updated February 9th, 2019

    1.1 | Multiplayer Connection SOPs Application

    These standard operating procedures apply to all 1st VFW members and any event hosted by the 1st VFW.

    1.2 | Signing Up for a Flight
    All wing standard flights (recurring weekly flights) will be posted in our Flight Ops forum until we complete our new Air Tasking Order app. Flight sign-ups are always first-come-first-serve. Please keep in mind some roles, such as FAC(A), will require the applicable qualification so do not sign up for roles you are not yet qualified to take.

    If you are unable to attend a flight that you signed up for, please make a post in the forum in the flight thread, or via PM to the mission host. We understand things come up but it is proper etiquette at the 1st VFW to give the mission host a heads up so he/she doesn't wait for you before starting the mission. It's also recommended that if you are unsure if you can attend an event, do not commit to a seat until you know you can make it.

    1.3 | Pre-Flight
    Prior to beginning the connection process, check the forum to make sure that you have any briefing materials or files for the mission. Read the briefing before the flight. Be on time for the flight. It's recommended that you show up at least 15mins before the scheduled flight time to check for any new mission files, launch DCS and test your controls, and be ready for the mission host briefing. If you arrive after all the pilots have entered the 3D world, you will not be able to participate in the scheduled flight. Please do not make the host make the decision whether you can join late or not. Simply ask if the briefings are over, and if the answer is yes, please do not ask if you can join.

    1.4 | Test Your Controls
    We cannot stress enough how important it is that every member tests their controls before connecting to the server for a weekly standard flight. Do not put the host in a position where he has to restart the mission because you didn't check if your Track IR worked. The host may choose not to restart the mission and your flight lead may press on without you. It takes 5 minutes to test your controls before the mission. Sometimes things happen and you can quickly rejoin the mission after resolving the issue. However, doing a quick instant action training mission can greatly reduce the chances of you having a PC related issue.

    1.5 | Mission Commander Briefing
    When all checked in members of the mission are present in The Bar TS channel, the MC (Mission Commander) will start the mass briefing. This briefing will include the following:

    • Tactical overview for the mission
    • Mission objectives
    • Target assignments & Time on Target
    • Comms schedules
    • TACAN channel assignments
    • Friendly forces working in operating area (i.e. JTAC/Allied Ground/air forces etc.)
    • Threat assessments (air and ground)
    • Supporting airborne assets information (tankers/AWACS)
    • Weather updates
    • SPINS (Special Instructions)

    1.6 Connecting to the server / SRS Comms Check
    After the briefings have been completed, and the host is ready for people to connect, the host will say "Comms are up". This is your cue to go to the Multiplayer section of the DCS user interface, search for our server, and connect. The password is posted in the forum NOTAMs forum. Make sure you have a launched simple radio before launching DCS and entering the Multiplayer screen as our dedicated server will auto-connect to SRS when you connect to it.

    Once you are connected (in the Select Role screen where you can select your seat/jet), do not enter 3D until the host says everyone can commit to 3D. In the seat selection screen the host will make sure everyone that is signed up for the flight is present and ready to fly before we commit to 3D. When everyone is present, the host will complete a comms check using simple radio. This is done by each person in the select role screen saying their name using simple radio. It goes in order top to bottom.

    1.7 | Individual Flight Briefing
    Once the mission commander briefing is completed, everyone has connected to the server, and you've completed the comms check, individual flights will be moved to their respective channels on Teamspeak. This is to ensure that if there is a problem with communications in the flight, it can be handled locally instead of in a squadron wide channel. Once flight members are in the room, the flight lead will conduct a flight briefing.

    Flight briefing is to include the following:
    • Seat assignments
    • Individual target assignments & attack tactics (or Training Objective)
    • Marshal, taxi, takeoff, and push times and procedures
    • Departure Procedure
    • Cruise Parameter
    • Recovery (Patterns/expected recovery CASE 1/3, Overhead approach, etc.)
    • Abort Criteria / Contingency Planning

    1.8 | Committing to 3D
    After the host says to commit to 3D, you can click the briefing button and then the fly button. Once everyone is in 3D the host will un-pause the game (if needed). At this point you can begin your ramp start and begin to fly the mission as briefed. If you have any issues during this phase use Teamspeak to communicate them. Text chat is also available if the Mission Commander is not available in your Teamspeak channel.

    1.9 Rules on Respawning, Rearming, and Repairing
    Unless the mission commander briefs it, respawning or rearming is not permitted in weekly standard flights. There are some scenarios where it will be ok, such as 24/7 missions or longer events, but if it is ok it will be briefed or included in the event information. The reason for this is that most of our weekly standard missions have a set amount of time to run because most of our members cannot spend the entire day flying, therefore there isn't enough time for people to be able to respawn or repair your jet and fly all the way back to target. Rearming is permitted in weekly standard flights granted your flight lead approves it and you return to base with your wingman.

    2.0 | If you get shot down, crash or CTD
    Losing your jet:
    During the mission if you get shot down, crash, or eject, you are done for the mission. We strive for realistic mission scenarios and therefore you have one life per weekly standard mission. Again, there may be special events or 24/7 campaigns where respawning is ok, however in most of our weekly standard flights you will only have one life and should make it count. If you die, eject, or crash during a mission, you are permitted to back out whenever you like. However, you are still required to be present for the debrief. Therefore, you can hang out and surf the web while you wait, or ask a wing member to text you/message you on discord when the debrief is about to start. If you have to leave and cannot attend the debrief, let the mission host know so he doesn't wait for you before starting the debrief.

    Crash-to-Desktop or Technical Issues:
    During the mission if your game crashes (CTD) or you have a technical issue such as a control not working, etc... Let your flight lead know and he will determine if it is ok for you to back out and rejoin the mission. There may be some cases where you are not able to rejoin the mission. The reason for this is that delays can ruin the mission or cause people to back out because they have limited time.

    2.1. Debriefing
    All pilots who participate in a flight shall stay for the debrief. The purpose of the debrief is also not for a play-by-play of the entire flight; pick the things that are relevant and talk about them. Flights can do a quick debrief after the event on their respective Teamspeak channels before going to the main Debrief channel for the mass debriefing with all flights present. At the mass debriefing the Mission Commander (MC) will go first and state whether the mission was a success and cover any important aspects of the mission. After the MC completes his debrief, each Flight Lead will debrief going in event number order. The following is a good guideline for how to debrief:
    - Was your mission a success? If so, why? If not, why?
    - What did your flight do well?
    - What could we improve? Cover any deviations from standard operating procedures
    - What have you learned and how will you use that knowledge going forward.

    Try not to call out names and use callsigns. If you are providing constructive criticism to another pilot, such as pointing out an SOP he didn't follow, consider also covering something positive that pilot did. While our debriefs should always be candid, they also should always be respectful and in the spirit of us improving as a wing.

    2.2 | F10 Map Policy
    Until datalink is enabled in the F/A-18C, we allow mission hosts to show blue forces only on the F10 map. Pilots are allowed to view the F10 map whenever they need. Note, that once datalink is enabled, the wing may choose to hide all units on the F10 map.

    2.3 | Wing Server Rules
    All of the 1st VFW rules and regulations apply to flying on our wing dedicated server. For reference, view our rules page. In general, be respectful of people flying. Do not talk on Teamspeak after you have been shot down or are no longer participating in the mission. Do not spam the text chat. Do not give out our server, simple radio, or TS connection info to people outside of the 1st VFW.

    2.4 | Have Fun
    We at the 1st VFW enjoy taking full advantage of DCS from a tactical simulation standpoint, but at the end of the day this is a hobby and everyone should have fun. All of our SOPs are designed to balance the simulation and fun aspect so please do your best to help us achieve both objectives.

    2.5 | Suggestions or Questions
    If you have suggestions to improve our SOPs, please feel free to post them in our forum or bring them up during a debrief. We are always looking to improve our SOPs and make our fights more fun and more realistic while maintaining a stable consistent platform for online flying. Also, if you have any questions about our SOPs, please post them in the forum.

    ***It is not permitted to copy these SOPs outside of the 1st VFW without permission.***

    1st Virtual Fighter Wing
    VMFA-294 Standard Operating Procedures
    Certified for DCS World 2.5x
    Updated February 9th, 2019

    Chapter 1 – Radio Procedures

    1.0. Event Number, Radio Frequencies, TACAN Channels

    1.0.1. Comm Unit Specification. Com 1 (referred to as PRIMARY or PRI) will be used as the tactical radio to communicate with other flights, and all internal flight communications will be handled on Com 2 (referred to as AUXILLARY or AUX). Comm1 or PRIMARY is the radio the left in the jet, and Comm2 or AUX is the radio on the right. Every member should be mindful of keeping non-mission critical comms off of primary so as not to clog up the radios with unneeded traffic.

    1.0.2. Event Numbers. Each flight will be assigned an event number, and each event number has a TACAN channels assigned to them. The reason for this is to simplify mission creators having to assign TACANS. For each flight we do if you know your event number, you'll know which TACAN channels are assigned to your flight. Note, both TACAN bands are available to each event in case they want to split it between each section of their flight. Also note, the TACAN channels listed below should not be used for tankers or otherwise when creating a mission.

    1.2.1. Event TACAN Assignments

    • Event 1 | 74YX
    • Event 2 | 75YX
    • Event 3 | 76YX
    • Event 4 | 77YX
    • Event 5 | 78YX
    • Event 6 | 79YX
    • Event 7 | 80YX
    • Event 8 | 81YX

    1.1. Radio Procedures

    1.1.1. Comms Standards. The standard radio transmission is made up of three parts. Recipient Callsign, your callsign, and the information needing to be passed. For example, if you are in a flight, Knight 1, and you want to tell another flight, Chevy 2, there are hostile contacts:
    a) “Chevy 2, Knight 1. Be advised, single group, bullseye 174, 80 miles, twenty thousand, hostile"

    1.1.2. Your Callsign.
    Once you enter the 3D world you should use your event callsign (i.e. Knight 12) from that point on. Note, when you are responding to things within your own event, you can use your number instead of your full callsign (i.e. "Two").

    1.1.3. Acknowledging.
    Each wingman shall respond with his number in the division or section when replying to a directive call. This rule does not apply to informative calls. When in doubt, acknowledge the call.
    a) Directive Example:
    “Knight 1 check left 3-1-0”
    b) Informative Example:
    “Knight 1 is millertime”

    1.1.4. Radio Etiquette. The basic rule for talking on the radio is to think about what you want to say before you key the radio to speak. Remember the mantra it’s push-to-talk, not push-to-think. Try to be clear and concise. It can be frustrating to want to say something important on the radio when someone is making a long radio transmission with lots of pauses in their speech. Also, do not key the radio to say something, and then let go of the push-to-talk, and then immediately key the radio again to say something else. Every time you let go of the push-to-talk button you need to wait and see if anyone is going to respond otherwise you will both be transmitting at the same time and neither of your transmissions will make it through. Take a second before every radio transmission to think about what you want to say and you will become better at brevity over time.

    1.1.5. Flight-to-Flight Communication.
    This is no different than the standards bullet points above, however you might be told to standby. When you need to get in contact with another flight, be sure to speak their callsign over the radio followed by your callsign. This will alert the receiving aircraft or flight that they are about to be spoken to. For example, before saying what you need to say to the other flight, you need to contact them like the following when Knight1 is trying to contact Ford 3:

    “Ford 3, Knight 1”

    After Ford 3 replies with something like “Go for Ford 3”, Knight 1 can send their traffic.

    The reason you make this call before jumping into whatever you want to say is because the other flight (Ford 3 in this case) may be busy or actively talking within his own flight and not be ready to receive your transmission. If that happens, Ford 3 may not reply or may say something like “standby”. If another flight tells you to standby, you must wait until the receiving aircraft gives you the “Send traffic” call. It is permitted to override the standby if there the flight is in immediate danger or to communicate an emergency. In all cases when it comes to radio communications, if something important needs to be said, you can just say it. You don't need to contact them before sending your message in those cases. Flight safety always comes first over SOPs.

    1.1.6. Frequency Changes and Directive Calls:
    Push: A flight lead may elect to use a “push” call when he or she wishes to keep comms traffic to a minimum. Push is most often used for switching a flight to a frequency or anything else the flight lead deems necessary, however the important thing to note about “push” is you the pilot will not respond to it.

    Go: Go calls are the exact opposite of Push calls. This code word is used when the flight lead wants a response before committing the action. Go calls are commonly used for non-briefed actions, or to confirm his wingmen heard the call before he changes frequencies. For example, after takeoff everyone in the event should expect to hear a push call to another frequency so the event lead doesn’t need to do a “go” call. However, if his wingman says he can’t hear lead on a specific preset, lead may say “go to button 3” because he wants to make sure his wingman heard it before he changes the preset.

    GO: “Knight, GO primary two-four-two-point-zero”

    After acknowledging you then change the frequency, whereas if Flight Lead said "push":

    PUSH: “Knight, PUSH primary 2”
    No Response need - wingmen just change the frequency and wait for the check-in on the new freq.

    Note: If an aircraft in sequence doesn’t respond, the next aircraft will not respond until the communications issue gets sorted with the aircraft that didn’t respond. IE: If number two doesn’t say “2” then three and four will hold their calls. If flight lead doesn't hear anything from dash 2, he should say something on AUX like "Two, did you switch to PRI 2?" and get it sorted out before checking the remaining wingmen.

    1.1.7. Knock it Off & Terminate. The procedures surrounding these two calls must be clearly understood by all pilots during training. Knock-It-Off (KIO) Call. The term “knock-it-off” may be used by any member of the formation to direct all aircraft to cease maneuvering and will be used when safety of flight is a developing factor. If danger is imminent, a directive call should be made. "Knock it off" does not mean the flight will cease flying formation, rather the flight lead will decide on the appropriate course of action with the goal of providing a stable platform while clearing his/her flight path. Following a “knock-it-off” call all flight members will vigilantly clear their flight paths while terminating individual maneuvers and proceed as directed by the flight lead. Eg. During a BFM event the KIO call was made, all flight members would stabilize in their current position and wait for instructions from Lead. KIO Procedures. Initiation of a knock-it-off will begin with the flight call sign, and “knock-it-off.” If prudent, a short description of the hazard may be included such as hard deck, traffic, etc.. This call will be followed by the flight acknowledging the call, in flight order. In the following example, Hammer flight is flying an extended trail, fluid maneuvering exercise when a member of Hammer flight has realized the flight is quickly approaching the briefed hard deck (lower altitude limit for maneuvering):
    KIO Call Made: “Hammer flight, knock-it-off, hard deck”

    KIO Call Acknowledged: “Hammer 1, knock it off” (flight lead)
    “Hammer 2, knock it off”
    “Hammer 3, knock it off”
    “Hammer 4, knock it off”
    In this example, all aircraft were alerted to a safety of flight condition that was developing. Who called KIO is not critical as the condition effected all flight members. Had the flight member witnessed imminent danger, a flight member’s pending impact with the ground in this case, the call would instead be directive in nature (“Hammer 2, pull up!”), and a flight “knock it off” call should not be used until after directive instructions are provided. When to Call Knock-It-Off. Transmit KIO when any of the following situations occur:
    • A dangerous situation is developing
    • Loss of situational awareness that can’t be regained
    • Violation of briefed area boundaries or flight through minimum altitudes has or is about to occur
    • Recognized radio failure
    • Bingo fuel inadvertently overflown such that a direct flight to primary or alternate is required
    • Non-briefed or non-participating flight/aircraft enters area and is a potential hazard to the flight
    • Over-G/exceeding briefed flight parameters Terminate Call. Call “Terminate” to direct a specific aircraft or flight to cease maneuvering and to proceed as directed. Use “terminate” when safety of flight is not a factor, or as briefed. This call is particularly useful during formation or BFM training to inform the flight lead that all desired training has been achieved for a given phase of maneuvering. Terminate Procedures. The following is the procedures for a terminate call.
    Flight Lead: Acknowledge the wingmen terminate request. Unless there is a safety of flight issue, the decision to continue the current maneuver is yours to make based on training requirements, fuel state, area awareness, etc. Wingman Response to Terminate Call. When hearing a terminate request while flying in finger four formation, simply await lead’s direction. When flying extended trail or during rejoins, if lead calls terminate, all flight members should acknowledge in sequence. When to Call Terminate. Transmit Terminate when the following situations occur:
    • The desired learning objective is achieved.
    • Warranted by the situation and KIO is not called for.

    NOTE: Wingmen calling “terminate” for reasons other than safety of flight, will preface this call with “request” and await flight lead direction. Flight Lead (or your Instructor Pilot) makes the terminate call. Wingmen and students can only request to terminate. That is another difference between "Knock-it-Off" and "Terminate". Anyone can make a KIO call because safety is paramount, whereas "Terminate" is up to flight lead or the Instructor Pilot to determine if the training objective has been achieved or should cease.

    1.1.8. Safety First. At any point during the mission if you need to say something important that pertains to the safety of you or any friendly flights, you can speak up and say whatever you need to say. Making sure all flights RTB is more important than SOPs. The same applies for using brevity or not. You can always say something in plain English when needed. If you don’t know the brevity code, just use plain English.

    1.1.9. Usernames. If another pilot is not responding to your calls, you can use their wing username/callsign to cut through all the radio traffic to try and get their attention. For example, instead of calling Knight 1 you can say “Fulcrum” or “Demo” to get their attention.

    Chapter 2 – External Lighting

    2.0 External Lighting SOP

    2.0.1. The following SOPs will apply for external lighting except when fenced in. Daytime Lighting
    - Position Lights: OFF
    - Strobe Lights: ON
    - Landing Light: OFF during taxi, ON as you take active runway, OFF after landing
    - Formation Lights: OFF Night Lighting:
    - Position Lights: ON
    - Landing Light: ON during taxi or as needed
    - Strobe Lights: ON
    - Formation Lights: As briefed, or as required by wingman FENCED In:
    - All External Lights: OFF
    - Formation Lights: As Required Air to Air Refueling:
    - Strobe Lights: ON
    - Strobe Lights: OFF
    - Formation Lights: ON
    - Position Lights: OFF

    Note: The default switches when you get in the F/A-18C are the correct settings for day time operations. You don't need to make any adjustments.

    2.0.2. Formation Lights. Default is to keep them off unless briefed. However, if it's dark enough to warrant using them, wingmen can request them. They should always be off during the day.

    Chapter 3 – Flying Operations

    3.0. Ramp Start

    3.0.1. Startup. Once you are cleared to the 3D world from the select role screen, you can start your jet whenever you are ready. It's recommended you do a controls check immediately and make sure your rudder pedals, throttle, and stick are moving in-game. That way if you have an issue, you can fix it right away.

    Things to Remember when ramp starting:

    • Complete your ramp start checklist and:
    • Select a 1st VFW skin
    • Get the local QNH (in-game briefing or ATIS if not provided by MC)
    • Enter any waypoints if necessary prior to marshal
    • Assign bullseye waypoint
    • If you have an issue or question during ramp start, you can use AUX or Teamspeak. However, no comms are required during the ramp start. Radio checks are completed per the briefing (usually at the marshal)
    • You can taxi to the marshal whenever you are ready. You don’t have to wait until Lead is taxi. Just make sure you lineup per the marshal procedures briefed.

    3.0.2. Marshal. Marshal procedure should be covered in the briefing. The reason we marshal at the airfield is that often we are not ramp starting right next to each other and may be on different sides of the airfield. Marshaling enables to the flight to get joined up and perform any final checks prior to taxi.

    Flight leads have three options for choosing where and how to marshal: Marshal at the line. If there isn't a good marshal location at the airfield (i.e. it's not one of our theater homeplates listed below), or if all aircraft are parked next to each other during the ramp start, flight lead can brief that you will marshal at the line. This means you will not need to taxi to a marshal location. Flight lead will perform the AUX check from the ramp start location. Carrier ops will always use marshal at the line. Marshal at one of the assigned airfield locations. If you are at one of the following airfields shown below (Al Minhad, Tonopah, or Sochi), and it is not briefed that you will marshal at the line, you will marshal at the locations shown in the figures below. These are our most commonly used airfields and therefore you are ramp starting at one of these airfields, you should already know where to marshal. Marshal at a convenient location. In some cases you may be ramp starting at an unfamiliar airfield and need a location to marshal and join up before taxiing to the runway. If this happens, flight lead will need to pick a location that is convenient for the flight to marshal. Marshal Procedure.
    When lining up to marshal, you should always line up to flight lead's left. For example, if lead is lined up on the north side of a ramp, two will line up south of him to his left, then three will be on two's left, and four will be on three's left. After all aircraft are at the marshal, flight lead will perform a radio check on AUX on the briefed frequency for your flight. You should respond with your dash number in flight order. AUX Check example:
    “Knight 1 check AUX”
    “4” Other Marshal Checks & Considerations:
    -Flight lead should always check you have a good yardstick (A/A TCN)
    -Marshal is a good opportunity to check your controls, speedbrake, refueling probe, and hook
    -There is no primary (Comm1) check at the marshal.
    -Flight lead will make his taxi call on primary so if you see flight lead start to taxi and didn't hear anything on primary, speak up on AUX because you may not be on the correct PRI channel/freq
    -Flight leads need to leave room for other flights. Think about that if you are leadings when you choose where to park.
    -Follow taxi lines when leaving the marshal.

    3.0.3. Al Minhad Airbase (Persian Gulf) Marshal and EOR Areas Al Minhad Info. All missions in Persian Gulf should use Al Minhad as it's the homeplate of VMFA-294. Aircraft should be placed to spawn in the location shown in the image above. The marshal area is located just south of the spawn location, and therefore, at Al Minhad flight lead may choose to marshal at the line if needed. However, if marshaling is needed, the location shown in the image above should be used with flight leads lining up on the east side and wingmen lining up to the west (left of flight lead). Note, the EORs/arming locations are also marked.

    3.0.4. Tonopah Test Range Airport (Nevada). Tonopah Info. The marshal area at Tonopah shown above is located on the northeast side of the airfield in a gap between a large row of shelters and the northern most shelters. Lineup is performed from north to south with lead lining up on the north side and wingmen to lead's left. Additional events line up behind the first event in the same order. Note that the EORs at Tonopah are right by the runway hold short, and aircraft should line up with flight lead closest to the runway.

    3.0.5. Sochi (Caucuses) Marshal & EOR Locations.

    3.1 Taxi Procedures
    3.1.1. Leaving the Marshal. Once the flight lead has checked everyone in, the flight lead will make a taxi call on the PRI radio and then begin his taxi. The wingmen will then taxi in order.

    3.1.1. Tower Taxi Call. The taxi call should be made in the following format:

    [Airfield Name] traffic, [Flight Callsign], # and type of a/c, [your location], taxi, [runway #]

    For example:
    "Al Minhad traffic, Knight 1, two hornets, at the marshal, taxi, runway 0-9."

    It is assumed everyone in the flight is tuned to the correct frequency on the PRI radio. If you do not hear the call on the PRI radio from lead during the taxi call, then you need to inform him or her immediately. Also, after flight lead makes the airbase traffic call that he is taxi, you don’t need to say “[Callsign] is taxi”. Operate under the “no news is good news” rule. If lead doesn’t hear anything from you he/she will assume you are taxiing and everything is situation normal.

    3.1.2. Taxi Formation.
    The normal taxi procedure for VMFA-294 aircraft is to taxi in a staggered taxi and will maintain 150ft nose to tail separation. If the condition of the taxiway is poor or the taxiway width doesn’t allow a staggered taxi, then a trail taxi will be used at 300ft spacing nose to tail. Max taxi ground speed is 25kts ground speed. We typically taxi near 20.

    : We are not trying to fly formation while taxing. Do not stress over distances but use common sense keeping enough spacing you will not run into your lead or so far away you are taking up a large portion of the taxiway length causing traffic issues behind you. Use the above image for reference on distances.

    3.2 End of Runway (EOR) & Takeoff
    3.2.1. EOR Checks. If an airfield has an End of Runway (EOR) turn-out available, all flights will line up there prior to taking the active runway. At the EOR, flight lead will perform an alpha check on bullseye and confirm air-to-air TACAN is working. When the alpha check is completed on the bullseye, flight lead will make a traffic call and the flight will turn on their landing lights before taking the active runway. Note, if there is not an EOR at the airfield, these checks should be performed at the runway hold short line. Alpha Check Bullseye. The only required check at the EOR is the bullseye alpha check. This is completed by flight lead looking at his FCR and reading off his current bullseye (the bullseye located at the bottom center of the FCR). Wingmen will then cross reference their own ship's bullseye and confirm it matches what flight lead said and respond with a positive acknowledgement using their dash number.

    For example:
    "Knight 1, alpha check bullseye 2-1-0, 180 miles, check yardstick"

    Note: If your bullseye does not match what flight lead said, or you do not have a good yardstick, please speak up on AUX and sort out the issue. If you are performing an instrument departure, the yardstick will be the airfield you are tuned into using your TACAN. Departure Traffic Radio Call. After the EOR checks are completed, Flight Lead will make an airfield traffic call letting other flights know they are taking the active runway and departing and switch his flight over to the tactical primary channel. We switch channels to avoid having the AI repeat the same calls over and over again while you are lined up on the active runway. The format is as follows:

    [Airfield Name] traffic, [Flight Callsign], departing [RWY #], [Flight Callsign] push [tactical/common freq]

    For example:
    "Al Minhad traffic, Knight 1, departing runway 0-9, Knight, push 3 on primary"

    Then as you turn on your landing light taking the active runway flight lead will wait a few moments to allow his wingmen to change frequencies and then flight lead will perform a radio check on the new primary.

    "Knight 1, check primary"

    Note: If a flight makes their departure call and takes the active and/or departs and you need to get a hold of them and you are still on the tower frequency, you should know which frequency they switched to and be able to change to that frequency and contact them. Also, please note that if we are flying on a public server or another group's server, all our members are required to follow their ATC procedures and make the appropriate traffic calls.

    3.2.2. Takeoff Types. For departure types, flight leads can choose between a rolling takeoff, interval takeoff, and no interval takeoff. The takeoff type is up to flight lead, however, there are some scenarios where one is more beneficial than the other. A interval takeoff enables the flight to line up on the runway, look over each other's aircrafts one more time, and depart in a organized manner, but it does take longer to get everyone on the runway and in position. Rolling takeoffs are the quickest departure type and can be useful when the airfield is busy or there is inbound traffic. A no interval takeoff enables the wingmen to takeoff while in formation and reduce time to join up, but does have restrictions in loadouts, weather/winds, and runway conditions. Rolling Takeoff. To perform a rolling takeoff, flight lead takes the active and doesn't stop. He keeps rolling right into his takeoff. As soon as lead goes into afterburner the next aircraft takes the active runway and does the same. It's called a rolling takeoff because you don't stop after taking the active from the taxiway. Interval Formation Takeoff. To perform an interval formation takeoff, each aircraft takes the active runway together and lines up as shown below. The standard interval is 10 seconds, but that can be increased as needed by flight lead for radar trail departures or weather conditions. Interval Takeoff. After the flight is in position, each pilot looks over the next aircraft to ensure the speedbrake is retracted, the flaps are set for takeoff, all panels are closed, no fluids are leaking, safety pins are removed, rudders are toed-in, nosewheel is straight and the launch bar is up. Formation Takeoff Lineup.
    For formation takeoff (interval or no interval), all aspects of the takeoff must be prebriefed by the flight leader. This should include flap settings, use of nosewheel steering, power changes, power settings, and signals for actuation of landing gear, flaps, and afterburner. The leader takes position on the downwind side of the runway with other aircraft in tactical order, maintaining normal parade bearing. See figure below. For three-aircraft formations, line up with the lead on the downwind side, number 2 on the centerline, and number 3 on the upwind side. Wingtip/launch rail overlap should not be required but is permitted if necessary. For four-plane formations, line up with the lead’s section on the downwind half of the runway and other section on the upwind half. Interval Section Takeoff Procedure.
    The procedure for a formation interval takeoff is that once all ships are in position flight lead will make the run 'em up call. Note, once you as a wingman are in position, you should perform your final controls checks and do your wipeout and then look towards your section leader. This will give flight lead the indication each aircraft is ready. The procedure for an interval takeoff is as follows:

    For example:
    "Knight 1, run 'em up" [brakes set, run engines up to 80%]
    "Two" [Dash 2 acknowledges the call]

    [Brief delay while dash 2 gets his engine up to 80%]

    "Two is in the green" [Dash 2 is at 80% RPM and has good pressure/good engines]
    "Brakes, Brakes, Ready, Now" [Flight Lead giving the brakes release call on the word "now"]

    After flight lead says "now", he will release his brakes and advance his throttle for takeoff. Ten seconds later, or as briefed, dash 2 will release his brakes (without saying anything on the radio) and begin his takeoff roll. If it is a three ship, dash 3 would do the same ten seconds later. If the flight is a 4-ship, after flight lead starts his takeoff roll, dash 3 will begin the same procedure. He will call brakes set, run 'em up, wait for dash 4 to acknowledge the call and then say he is in the green, and then dash 3 will make the "brakes, brakes, ready, now" call and start his takeoff roll. Ten seconds later dash 4 will begin his takeoff roll (without saying anything on the radio). It is important that after the first section does their takeoff procedure they keep the radio clear for dash 3 and dash 4 to complete their takeoff.

    Note: No interval and interval formation takeoffs are performed in sections. Therefore, if flight lead says to run the engines up, he is only saying that to dash 2. The exception is that if you are a 3-ship, in which case he would be talking to dash 3 as well and dash 3 would make the same acknowledgement calls after dash 2 (i.e. he would also say "Three" and "Three is in the green"). But if it's a 4-ship, this procedure would be completed by the first section and then repeated by dash 3 and dash 4. Also, an important note that as the wingman you should not wait to acknowledge the "run 'em up" call until your engine is at 80%. The first acknowledgement call, "Two", is to acknowledge flight lead's call that he is directing you to set your brakes and run your engine up to 80%. Therefore, after flight lead (or dash 3 in section lead) says "run 'em up", he should immediately hear you acknowledge his call. There can be a delay after you acknowledge before you say "[dash #] in the green" because you need a moment to get your engine to 80% and check your gauges.

    If you are in a flight with more than 4 aircraft, that is a non-standard flight and the departure or takeoff type should be thoroughly briefed. No Interval Section Takeoff.
    A no interval section takeoff means all aircraft in the flight will all take the active and depart in formation in sections (2-ships). Engines are run up to approximately 80%, instruments checked, and nosewheel steering low gain ensured. On signal from the leader, brakes are released, throttles are advanced to military power minus 2% rpm. If afterburner is desired, the leader may go into mid range burner immediately without stopping at military power. Normal takeoff techniques should be used by the leader, with the wingman striving to match the lead aircraft attitude as well as maintain a position in parade bearing with wingtip separation. The gear and flaps are retracted via radio calls (since we can't do hand signals). Turns into the wingman are not to be made at altitudes less than 500 feet above ground level. When both sections begin takeoff roll from the same point on the runway, the second section must delay takeoff roll until 10 seconds after the first section starts the takeoff roll. When 2,000 feet of runway separation exists at the beginning of takeoff roll, use a 5-second delay instead of 10 seconds.

    : Section takeoff is prohibited with any of the following conditions:
    a. Crosswind over 15 knots
    b. Asymmetric load over 9,000 foot-pounds not including missiles or pods on stations 1 and 9
    c. Dissimilar loadout except for VERS, MERS, TERS, pylons, FLIR, LDT, fuselage AIM-7s/AIM-120s or wing tip mounted stores. Procedure for No Interval Section Takeoff. The procedure for a no interval section takeoff starts the same as the interval formation takeoff with the same lineup and radio calls. The only differences are that when flight lead (or section lead) say "brakes, brakes, ready, now" the wingman will also release his brakes at the same time and advance his throttles for takeoff with his lead. As noted above, flight lead/section lead, should not go full afterburner if afterburner takeoff, and not full military power if a mil power takeoff. The reason for this is to give the wingman a little extra throttle if needed to stay in position. An example of the full procedure is outlined below.

    For example:
    "Knight 1, run 'em up" [brakes set, run engines up to 80%]
    "Two" [Dash 2 acknowledges the call]

    [Brief delay while dash 2 gets his engine to 80% RPM]

    "Two is in the green" [Dash 2 is at 80% RPM and has good pressure/good engines]
    "Brakes, Brakes, Ready, Now" [Flight Lead giving the brakes release call on the word "now"]

    [Dash 2 releases his brakes with flight lead and does his best to maintain position]
    [Flight lead rotates and then when he is raising his gear and flaps he says it over the radio]

    "Gear, now"
    "Flaps, now"

    Wingman doesn't acknowledge the gear and flaps calls. Those are informative calls. Again, if this is a 4-ship flight, the no interval takeoff would be completed in sections (1 and 2 go, ten seconds later 3 and 4 go following the same procedure). Any time there is a four ship section takeoff, it's important dash 1 and dash 2 keep the radios clear so dash 3 and dash 4 can do their takeoff. Aborted No Interval Section Takeoff.
    In the event of an aborted takeoff, the aircraft aborting must immediately notify the other aircraft. The aircraft not aborting should add max power and accelerate ahead and out of the way of the aborting aircraft. This allows the aborting aircraft to steer to the center of the runway and engage the arresting gear, if required. Overshooting Lead During No Interval Takeoff. If during a no interval section takeoff, the wingman overtakes his lead he must immediately notify his lead and take lead for the remainder of the takeoff. It is safer for the wingman to take lead and continue his takeoff then to throttle back and try to fix it.
    For example:
    Dash 2: "Two has lead" [Wingman tells his lead he has lead]
    Dash 1: "Two has lead" [Lead acknowledging dash 2 has the lead]

    Note: Dash 2 in the example above doesn't have to explain he is overshooting. If you are lead and you hear your wingman for any reason say he has lead, assume something is going wrong and give him lead then do what is needed to ensure the remainder of the takeoff roll is completed safely. .

    3.2.3. Climb Out.
    Climb out will be at 5 degrees nose up, 300 knots unless otherwise briefed. This will allow the flight to climb-out at a reasonable angle. If there is a turn to the first waypoint after takeoff, flight lead will make that turn within 3 miles of the runway. All flight leads should lead using the briefed formation (typically parade or cruise). All wingmen should use any turns the lead makes to help close the gap; You do not need to say anything on climb out - do not just head directly to the steer point to rejoin with lead. Instead, focus on rejoining with your flight lead. Once you are rejoined call "in position". Flight Lead Considerations During Climb Out. If you are flight lead, be mindful of your wingmen trying to rejoin. Do not make big turns greater than 30 degrees of bank unless it's for safety. Keep a consistent speed and attitude. Be predictable. Keep a consistent throttle setting and use pitch for airspeed until all ships are joined up. For example, do not go MIL power to maintain your 5 degrees nose up and 300kts. If you can't maintain 300kts at 5 degrees up without going to MIL power, adjust your pitch until you can.

    3.3 Cruise/Transit & Formation Flying

    3.3.1. Transit/Cruise. After all aircraft are in the pre-briefed formation for the departure flight lead may change the formation as needed or change the pitch and airspeed as needed. Now that the flight is formed up, your role as the wingman is to stay with your section lead and do as they say. If at any point you are having trouble keeping up or are unable to maintain the formation, speak up on AUX. You can ask lead to give you a little, meaning you are requesting he back off the throttle a little so you don't have to be afterburner to keep up.

    Note: Flight Lead does not have to call waypoint changes over the radio if you are flying the pre-briefed flight plan. If the flight is not deviating from the briefed flight plan, there shouldn't be any surprises when he gets to one waypoint that the flight turns to the next waypoint. Furthermore, you as the wingman should not be concerned with navigation. That is the responsibility of your lead. The only time a lead should communicate a waypoint change is that if it's a deviation of the briefed flight plan, or as a reference point such as to rejoin or use as an IP, holding point, etc... Responsibilities. During the transit portion of the flight, all wingmen will divide their attention between monitoring the lead aircraft to maintain the formation and keeping their head outside the aircraft on a visual lookout for any potential incoming threats as well as checking lead’s 6 O’ Clock. The lead is responsible for navigating, communicating to other flights, and using his sensors to look for threats (FCR, RWR, etc...). This does not mean that you remain silent no matter what as the wingman. If you see something important, speak up. For example, if you see a threat on your RWR and lead hasn't called it out, speak up on AUX. However, in most cases lead is your eyes for your sensors as your eyes should be on lead and looking outside the cockpit for threats.

    3.3.2. Formations. Below are the standard formations we use at the 1st VFW. It is not an exhausted list of all possible formations. Flight leads can brief different formations as needed, however, the formations listed below every 1st VFW member should know. Parade.
    The parade position is established by aligning the bottom wingtip light (located about in the middle of the missile rail) with the light on the LEX. Superimposing the two establishes a bearing line and step down. Proper wingtip clearance is set by reference to the exhaust nozzles. When the left and right nozzles are aligned so that there is no detectable curve to the nozzles, the reference line is correct. The intersection of the reference line with the bearing line is the proper parade position. Parade Turns.
    Parade turns are either standard (VFR) or instrument turns. During day VFR conditions, turns away from the wingman are standard turns. To execute, when lead turns away, the wingmen roll the aircraft about its own axis and increase power slightly to maintain rate of turn with the leader. Lateral separation is maintained by increasing g. Proper step down is maintained by keeping the leads fuselage on the horizon. Turns into the wingmen and all IFR or night turns in a parade formation are instrument turns. During instrument turns maintain a parade position relative to the lead throughout the turn. After initially joining up in echelon, three and four-plane formations normally use balanced parade formation. In balanced parade, number 3 steps out until the exhaust nozzles on number 2 are flush. This leaves enough space between number 3 and lead for number 2 to cross under into echelon. When it is necessary to enter IFR conditions with a three or four-plane formation, the lead directs the flight to assume fingertip formation. In this formation number 3 moves up into close parade on the lead. All turns are instrument turns. Cruise.
    The cruise position is a looser formation which allows the wingmen more time for visual lookout. Cruise provides the wingmen with a cone of maneuver behind the leader which allows the wingman to make turns by pulling inside the leader and requires little throttle change. The cruise position is defined by a line from the lead pilot’s head, through the trailing edge of the wingtip missile rail, with 10 feet of nose to tail separation. The wingmen are free to maneuver within the 70° cone established by that bearing line on either wing. In a division formation, number 3 should fly the bearing line, but always leave adequate room for number 2 and lead. Number 4 flies cruise about number 3. Fighting Wing. This formation, flown as a two-ship, gives the wingman a maneuvering cone from 30 to 60 degrees aft of line abreast and lateral spacing between 500 to 3,000 feet. Number Two maneuvers off lead and uses cutoff as necessary to maintain position. This formation is employed in situations where maximum maneuvering potential is desired. Arenas for use include holding in a tactical environment or maneuvering around obstacles or clouds. Fluid Four. Element leads fly line abreast, with wingmen in Fighting Wing or Wedge (as briefed) on the outside of the formation. Number Three maneuvers off Number One. Number Two and Number Four maneuver off their element leaders to maintain the outside of the formation. Element leads are responsible for deconfliction of elements when crossing the opposing element's 6 o'clock. At medium altitude, wingmen should stack away from the other element when turning. Spread / Line Abreast. Line Abreast formation is a position 0 to 20 degrees aft; 4,000 to 12,000 feet spacing; with altitude separation. At low altitude, the wingman should fly no lower than lead.
    . Wingmen will fly from 6,000 to 9,000 feet and strive for the 0-degree line, unless further defined by the flight lead. The 6,000 to 9,000 feet position provides optimum visual and firepower mutual support for threats from the beam and 6 o'clock positions. The flight lead may tailor the parameters of this formation to meet particular situations or requirements. For example, in poor visibility conditions at low altitude, the wingman may be briefed to fly 4,000 to 6,000 feet lateral spacing. For certain A/A scenarios, the briefed lateral spacing may be 9,000 to 12,000 feet to enhance 6 o'clock visual coverage while complicating the enemy's visual acquisition of all aircraft in the formation. Wingmen need to maintain a formation position, that allows performance of other responsibilities and does not require them to concentrate 100 percent of their attention on flying formation. Each pilot must be in a position to detect an adversary converting on the wingman's stern prior to that adversary reaching firing parameters. Against an all-aspect, all-weather adversary this may not be possible. This formation allows element members to be in position to quickly bring ordnance to bear when a threat is detected. A vertical stack of 2,000 to 5,000 feet, when applicable, minimizes the chance of simultaneous detection by a bandit. Echelon (Left/Right). Echelon formation can be flown in either Route or Fingertip/Parade. If in Fingertip/Parade, turns will only be made away from the Echelon. If a turn into the Echelon is unavoidable, in Fingertip, use minimum bank. If in Route formation, and a turn is made into the Echelon, each aircraft will only stack down enough to keep the rest of the formation in sight and avoid their maneuvering plane. Lead should avoid excessive bank angles (don't bank more than 30 degrees unless absolutely necessary). On turns away from the Echelon, all aircraft will maintain the same horizontal plane and the same formation spacing as noted in the Parade formation information above. Offset Box / Offset Container. In Box formation (also referred to as Container), sections use the line abreast maneuvering and look-out principles. The trailing section takes 1.5 to 3 NM separation, depending on terrain and weather. The objective of the spacing is to give separation to avoid easy visual detection of the whole formation, while positioning the rear section in a good position to immediately engage an enemy converting on the lead element. Because the F/A-18 can be difficult to see from a direct trail position, a slight offset will facilitate keeping sight of the lead element. Use of A/A tactical air navigation (TACAN) between the elements, and the radar in the rear section, will help keep the proper spacing. Section leaders initiate formation maneuvers. Dash 3 maneuvers to achieve pre-briefed spacing on the lead section (based on threat, mission, and weather). Flight leads may modify wingmen position to Wedge or Fighting Wing if desired. Trail. This formation is flown in a cone 30 to 60 degrees aft of lead at a range briefed by the flight lead to accomplish specific requirements. Avoid flying at lead's high 6 o'clock and use caution not to lose sight of lead under the nose. If no distance is given, standard trail distance is 2 miles. Cross Unders. A cross under is either directed on the radio or as required to changed formations. Two-Ship. Dash two drops below and behind dash one and moves to the directed wing. No part of Number Two's aircraft passes below the lead's aircraft. Wingman should strive to pass less than one half ship-length behind the lead. Dash two should then assume the formation departed on the new wing. Multiship. When the dash two aircraft is required to cross under in a flight of three or more, dash three (or the element) will move out to allow dash two sufficient spacing to move into position. Dash two performs a normal cross under. Dash three will then move in on dash two's wing. When an element is required to cross under, the element will drop below and behind the lead (element) maintaining nose-tail and vertical clearance, cross to the opposite side, and then move up into position. Dash four performs a cross under on dash three after the flight has achieved nose-tail separation.

    3.3.3. Rejoins. Any rejoin requires an accurate appraisal of position and closure. Always remember the ABCs of formation flying (Altitude, Bearing, Closure). When rejoining fix your altitude first (i.e. don't be at the same altitude as your lead), then get on the bearing line, and then close in. The low-drag nature of the F/A-18 and relative ineffectiveness of small throttle changes in slowing down requires some anticipation for power reduction. The speedbrakes are effective in reducing overtake at normal flying airspeeds (300 knots and above). Turning Rejoins. In this maneuver, the lead will maintain 300 knots and 30 to 45 degrees of bank. Flight members maintain approximately 350 - 400 knots. Wingmen join to the briefed formation positions (usually Parade or Cruise for turning rejoins). Visual Reference. A visual reference for a normal turning rejoin line is to obscure the far wing tip with the top of the vertical tail; you may be forward (slower) or aft (faster) of this line depending on relative airspeeds. Keeping the lead aircraft slightly above the horizon and comfortably visible will avoid an endgame vector into lead, while allowing for a controllable overshoot. Radar Lock-On. A radar lock-on may be used during the rejoin to provide range and overtake information. Position. If you are dash 3 or dash 4, ensure that you are locked to the leader and stay visual with Number Two. Speed Reduction. As separation decreases to approximately 3,000 feet, reduce power smoothly to control overtake. At approximately 1,500 feet, overtake should be about 50 knots. Consider using the speedbrakes if overtake is excessive. Stabilize momentarily in route and then smoothly move into the Parade position. If overtake is excessive approaching the extended Parade position, initiate a controlled overshoot early enough to allow nose-tail separation. Straight-Ahead Rejoin. Lead should maintain 300 knots unless otherwise briefed. Number Two rejoins to the right wing, the second section rejoins per the briefed formation. Wingmen should strive for a radar lock due to the reduced closure cues at 0 degrees aspect. Flight members should maintain approximately 75 to 100 knots of closure until inside 3,000 feet. At this point make a slight turn to arrive at about 200 feet lateral spacing from lead, while reducing closure to less than 50 knots by 1,500 feet. Stabilize in route and then move in to Parade if no other formation is specified. Overshoots. If the overtake is excessive and cannot be controlled with power and speedbrakes, initiate an overshoot: turning and straight-ahead. Turning. If turning, reduce bank and slide to the outside of the turn while calling "[Your Dash #], stripped". Ensure nose-tail separation and pass behind and below the flight lead. Once line of sight (LOS) begins moving forward, perform a normal cross under to the inside wing. Stabilize in route and then move into Fingertip. Straight-Ahead. If straight-ahead, check away from the lead and stay slightly low on the formation and also make the call "[Your Dash #], stripped". Keep lead in sight, stabilize, and move back into position.

    3.3.4. Maintaining Position. The laws of physics that affect your position-keeping when flying in Combat Spread are the same laws that affect your position-keeping while flying in Parade. The only major difference is your ability to discern deviations due to the relatively large separation between you and your Flight Lead. A disciplined inside/outside scan is crucial to seeing deviations, but the real key to staying in position is basic air work; how long do you think you could stay in Parade position with five more knots than Lead, or two degrees difference in heading? While Spread is much farther from Lead than is Parade, the same principles of position-keeping apply. Scanning your fuel flow as much as your airspeed will pay dividends in keeping airspeed under control while attempting to maintain proper TACFORM positioning.

    1. Always lead acute or altitude corrections; be accelerating back to 300 KIAS before you hit bearing line while fixing an acute, and/or starting level-offs before you blow through altitudes.

    2. Never lead sucked or abeam distance corrections; wait until you drive all the way up to the bearing line from a sucked position before you climb to decelerate, and don’t turn to parallel Lead before you’ve driven in or out to the abeam distance that you need.

    Always think about energy conversion. Getting proficient at trading altitude for airspeed, and vice versa, will pay dividends in making smooth, expeditious, and efficient corrections while attempting to maintain Combat Spread. Maneuvers and corrections need to be timely and smooth. It is important to note that erratic and/or abrupt control inputs will just aggravate all involved. Learn to make smooth and controlled, yet aggressive corrections; sometimes a 7 unit AOA pushover will be required. Other times, rolling upside down and pulling will achieve the same result. Going up on a wing might also be used if applicable; whichever technique is used, be aware of what you are trying to achieve with the jet, and do it smoothly.

    3.3.4. Check Turns & Tac Turns.

    3.3.5. Flight Lead Formation Flying Considerations.

    Wedge is defined as the wingman positioned from 30º to 60º aft of the leader's 3/9 line, 4000' to 6,000' back. The advantages of wedge are that the leader is well protected in the 6 o'clock area and is free to maneuver aggressively. The wingman may switch sides as required during turns. He may also switch sides as required to avoid terrain, obstacles or weather but must return to the original side unless cleared by the leader.

    Fighting Wing
    This formation, flown as a two-ship, gives the wingman a maneuvering cone from 30º to 70º aft of line abreast and lateral spacing between 500' to 3000’. Number two maneuvers off lead with cutoff as necessary to maintain position. This formation is employed in situations where maximum maneuvering potential is desired. The wingman is free to switch sides at any point in the flight to aid in maneuvering and providing coverage for flight lead. It is essentially the same as a Wedge (only closer) but with the freedom to move from side to side.

    A spread formation places the element lead and his wingman alongside of each other separated by typically 1nm. LAB formations can be difficult to fly since it requires the pilots to keep shifting their view to the side occasionally to ensure they are maintaining position. A stable flight lead flying a constant speed and heading make this easier.

    As the name implies, a Trail formation is simply the wingman following directly behind his flight lead at a specific distance; typically, 1nm. The key thing to remember when maneuvering in this formation is that the wingman must delay his turns slightly to remain in position; the wingman needs to fly to the spot where lead began his turn before turning.

    Parade & Cruise
    The parade formation is used to bring all aircraft in the formation as close as possible. The reason a flight lead may call for a parade formation would be for instrument conditions, congested airspace, or as its name implies, when the formation will be scrutinized from an outside observer. The proper Parade position is achieved by superimposing the bottom wingtip light with the light on the leading-edge extension and ensuring there is no discernable curve between the two engine nozzles.

    If flown as described above, you will be in a stepped down state. There are some things to consider when flying in the parade position and that is how you fly a turn. During IFR conditions you will weld the leading aircraft’s wing and the leading aircraft won’t exceed 30° of bank. If the leading aircraft turns away, you will climb slightly and be at the same level of bank, the opposite applies, and you will descend and match the leading aircraft’s angle of bank.
    During VFR turns, if the leading aircraft turns away, you will stay at the same altitude and turn with the leading aircraft. If the leading aircraft turns into you, you will descend and weld the leading aircraft’s wing.

    The Cruise formation allows wingmen to turn to the inside of their respective lead. It is important to note that whatever side 2 chooses, 3 needs to balance out the formation after the turn. However, the section leader must maintain his position and once the division has completed its turn the wingmen will rebalance the formation. The picture below shows how the formation could move depending on the turn direction. In the picture below, 4, would actually be on the left side of 3 in order to balance out this formation.

    This is essentially two Fighting Wing formations in a spread / LAB formation. When performing tac turns from this formation, #1 and #3 perform the turns as though they were a 2-ship element and their respective wingmen tag along switching sides on their respective leads as needed.

    Box or Offset Box
    A Box formation is a pair of LAB formations with the second element in trail behind lead element. More common is the Offset Box which simply slides the trailing element to the side (#3 flies between #1 and #2). Note in both the Box and Offset Box the #2 wingman is on the right side of flight lead. Flight leads may call or brief a “Box Left” meaning #2 (and therefore #4 as well) remain on the on the left side.

    After practicing these formations, the flight will proceed to the tanker to perform an AAR.
    Finger Tip (Balanced Parade)
    Fingertip is like the Parade formation with the exception that it is division formation and that two balances out the formation on the right-hand side whilst three is in parade with the lead aircraft on his left and the fourth aircraft is flying off three’s left wing.

    Check Turns
    In general, there are two types of turns you will be using throughout IQT; Check Turns and Tac Turns. Check turns are simply gentle turns of no more than 30 degrees of bank that can be used for anything from minor course adjustments to full 360s if so desired (although there are much more efficient ways to do that). Many flight leads will call for a check turn by saying “check right, heading 320” giving you some sense of how far this turn will go. Others may not announce a check turn at all especially if you are flying in some form of fingertip formation where it is easy to spot slight changes in his direction. It should also be noted that if you are following a flight plan; the lead aircraft won’t call their turn towards the next waypoint in sequence. – it is your job to stay on your lead’s wing (or whatever position he has you flying).

    Tac Turns
    These maneuvers are typically initiated from a spread / LAB formation with approximate 0.5 – 1.0nm separation. Tac turns also maintain a contract speed and are flown at MIL power using G to maintain speed. Note at high altitudes and with heavy loads this may make for a very slow turn…tac turns in general are not hard, breaking combat turns. It should be noted that a tac-turn call may be made at any airspeed, however a Tac-turn call is encouraged to be made where the jet is near it’s corner speed. Note also that in general these turns maintain formation although positional relationships may change (start out on right side but end up on left).

    90 Left / Right
    The 90-degree turn requires the pilot on the OUTSIDE of the turn to turn first; this may be the lead or it may be the wingman. The “delayed” pilot waits until the turning pilot reaches a point approximately 60 degrees behind his 3-9 line then begins his turn. Note the positional change of sides while the overall formation remains LAB upon completion

    Hook Turn
    Hook turns are performed with both aircraft beginning their turns at the same time AND in the same direction (“Hook right” or “Hook left”). Note again the positional change but the outcome remains a LAB formation.

    This maneuver is meant to minimize the time required to switch sides while also providing an excellent opportunity to check each other’s 6 o’clock for possible hostile aircraft. It’s also an exciting maneuver to perform as it results in a very close pass; wingman is responsible for deconfliction.

    Cross Turn
    Related to the Hook Turn is the Cross Turn. This turn also starts with both pilots initiating the turn simultaneously, BUT they turn INTO each other. This results in a wider LAB formation upon completion of the 180-degree turn. The Cross Turn is often accompanied by a Shackle to close up the formation. When conducting the maneuver, the lead aircraft may call a direction (high or low), if the lead calls high, then you will need to respond with low, and you will deconflict from his flight path and go below him during the turn. REMEMBER: It is your responsibility to deconflict on all tac-turns.

    In Place 90
    While like the 90 turn, this turn is different in that both pilots execute the turn simultaneously. This will result in a formation change (from LAB to Trail or from Trail to LAB). When executing from a LAB formation the turn is always done away from the wingman so that the results are a trail formation with #2 in trail of lead. Calling for a second in-place 90 will turn the formation back into a LAB formation. Also, if an in-place turn is desired, lead MUST specifically use the words “in-place” so as not to be mistaken for a 90 turn.

    45 Turn
    Much like the 90 turn, this turn requires the pilot on the OUTSIDE of the turn to turn first. The “inside” pilot may be required to make a slight check turn into the turning pilot to aid his transition to a turn in the called direction. It should be noted that there is no such thing as an in-place 45.

    It should also be noted that there are off-heading tac turns, however these are variations on the phraseology of the 45, 90, and shackle calls. Your flight lead will provide the roll-out heading, be sure to acknowledge the new heading before the maneuver begins.

    Flight Lead Stuff about about formation flying

    Combat Stuff

    c. FENCE Checks – See Appendix

    FENCE Checks

    FENCE is an acronym for Fire control, ECM (Electronic Countermeasures), Navigation, Communication, Emitters. To FENCE In means that administrative functions (to include G-warm) and setting of cockpit switchology have been completed prior to entering the combat area, and/or tactical portion of the flight; FENCE(d) Out means just the opposite, weapons switchology has been returned to a non-employment mode, and you are ready to return to a nontactical portion of the flight.

    FENCE In Execution
    The checks are accomplished at a predetermined point. The time and location should be included in the flight briefing. If the FENCE check is briefed, don’t expect division lead to make the call, just do it as briefed. However, FENCE calls are directive so if the Division Lead does make the “FENCE In” call, acknowledge the call first in flight order.

    FENCE In Call:
    “Hammer 1, FENCE In” (flight lead):
    #2: "Two"
    #3: "Three"
    #4: "Four"

    Each division member will then take the time to carefully perform his FENCE check and wait for Division Lead to respond first and follow in flight order.

    1. Master Arm - ARM
    2. Selective Jettison – AS BRIEFED/DESIRED
    3. A/A TACAN - SET
    4. Lights- OFF
    5. ALQ-126B – REC/XMIT

    The FENCE in call should be C/S#, Fence State, Fuel State, *G-WARM call (if executed).

    Lead: "One is FENCE'd in, ten point two, Good G"
    #2: "Two FENCE'd in, nine point six, Good G"
    #3: "Three FENCE'd in, eleven point one, Good G"
    #4: "Four, same”

    Note: If your fuel state is within 500lbs of the prior fuel call, you can reply with just “C/S#, Same.” This rule applies to all fuel calls to minimize radio traffic.

    FENCE Out Execution
    Upon exiting the FEBA, lead may call FENCE Out. This may also be prebriefed, it should be conducted at the predetermined point.

    FENCE Out Call:
    “Hammer 1, FENCE Out” (flight lead):
    #2: "Two"
    #3: "Three"
    #4: "Four"

    Following this call, all wingmen will set:
    1. Master Arm - SAFE
    2. ALE-47 – Off
    3. Appropriate Systems to Standby
    4. Rest Modes and Codes as Appropriate
    5. Rejoin in Cruise for Battle Damage Checks (See Below)

    Following battle damage checks the flight will fence out with Fuel state and jet status (Alpha = Up (No Damage) , Bravo = Up with a problem but still mission capable (RWR down when conducting a CAS mission), Zulu = Unable to complete the mission or the aircraft is damaged and needs to RTB.

    Lead: "One is FENCE'd Out, 7.6, Alpha"
    #2: "Two FENCE'd Out, 7.4, Alpha"
    #3: "Three FENCE'd Out, 5.5, Bravo RWR"
    #4: "Four, FENCE’d Out, 5.9, Zulu ALE-47”

    Battle Damage Checks (BD)
    As the last part of the FENCE out checks, battle damage checks should be performed. During a battle damage check, each aircraft visually inspects the other to ensure there was no damage during the aggressive maneuvering or ground attack. Battle damage checks in a Division will be executed by section in Fluid 4. The flight lead and number 3 will cross under their respective wingmen and conduct a BD. Once the BD has been completed, the wingmen will cross under their respective leads and conduct a BD. The flight will then continue in a fluid 4 or issued another formation.

    The execution of a normal BD should be from parade and the pilot conducting the check shall sweep the jet and call out anything that is out of the norm such as hung stores, missing panels. The pilot shall conduct a pass under to get to inspect the other side of the aircraft.

    Once the battle damage checks have been accomplished, the flight will continue per flight lead’s directive or as briefed

    -Shooter Shooter, shooter cover
    -Establish a wheel
    -BVR sorting - targeted, 1 and 3 sort
    -In hot, off hot, ip in bound (dont confirm in hot)

    Descent and approach
    • All pilots when passing through the transition layer will adjust their altimeter to match local conditions.
    • The flight lead will have either briefed the recover in the initial briefing or will specify the type of recovery during the decent.
    • If IFR conditions prevail, then all aircraft must fly an instrument approach single ship with a spacing of 3 miles between aircraft.
    • If VFR conditions, the standard approach is the Overhead Entry
    • If the flight is taking place at night, then overhead entries are prohibited and flight lead should setup for TACAN or straight-in approaches.
    The procedure for descent and approach is:
    1. By 30NM of the airfield, flight lead should brief the approach if it has changed from the pre-flight briefing due to weather, threats, or aircraft conditions. Each event should reduce their airspeed to 300kts once inside the 30NM circle around the airfield unless threats or the mission require faster airspeeds.
    2. During descent, all pilots are expected to adjust their altimeter to match the local conditions. If updated ATIS information is not available, use the same altimeter setting that you used during departure.
    3. At 20NM of the airfield, flight lead should transmit on the tower frequency announcing his/her intentions. The radio call should include the following information:
    a. [Airfield Name] Traffic
    b. Event Callsign
    c. Number and type of aircraft
    d. Current position in relation to the airfield
    e. Intentions / Type of Recovery
    Example Inbound Call:
    “Silver Bow traffic, Shooter 1, two Hornets, 20 miles south of the field, inbound, expect
    overhead entry’
    4. Any other events in the pattern or on approach need to reply with their position when we do not have active ATC. The event closest to the airfield should announce their position first, followed by the next event, and so on… We do this for deconfliction and so the latest event to arrive understands what is happening around the airfield and can plan accordingly. If there are multiple events in the pattern, flight lead may need to delay his/her approach and hold until space opens up. Only the flight lead of each event needs to transmit the call. The call to make is:
    a. [Airfield Name] Traffic
    b. Event Callsign
    c. Number and type of aircraft
    d. Position in the approach

    Example Position Calls:
    “Silver Bow traffic, Shooter 1, two Hornets, 10 miles north of the field for overhead entry”
    “Silver Bow traffic, Shooter 1, two Hornets, downwind for runway 2-1”

    VFR Conditions - Day:
    5. The standard daytime VFR recovery for the 101st is the Overhead Entry. Figure [X.X INSERT] below ion page [X INSERT] illustrates how the approach is flown.
    • Orient your flight so that wingman are on the outside of the intended break direction (i.e. if breaking left, wingmen should be on your right). The standard break direction is left unless otherwise briefed or required (i.e. due to terrain).
    • At 20NM, make inbound radio call on tower frequency, and continue descent while maintaining max of 300kts.
    • Align to the starboard side of the runway so you break over the runway if breaking left. Align to the port side of the runway if you are breaking right.
    • Continue descent towards initial point so that you end up 3NM from the runway threshold at 1200ft.
    • Make the position call “[Event Callsign], initial, [RWY #]” and begin accelerating to 350kts
    • As you approach the runway threshold and are over the runway numbers, Lead will make the position call “[Event Callsign], numbers”. You literally say “numbers” and not the actual runway numbers.
    • After Lead makes the “numbers” position call, Lead will perform a level break left over the runway followed by his/her wingman in 4-second intervals. Note: A fan break is also permitted if briefed where each aircraft breaks at the same time with different G (see Fan break in appendix); however, the standard is a 4 second interval break turn.
    • The break turn G should be 1% of your airspeed (i.e. 350kts = 3.5G) and as your airspeed decreases you should reduce the G to match it. You may also use your speedbrake as needed to get to 250kts during the turn to drop your gear and flaps full.
    • Your break turn should slow you down enough to get your gear down and flaps full so you can be on speed on downwind. This is particularly important for the wingman to ensure they maintain proper spacing. If you do not slow down below 250kts and get the jet configured for landing before completing your turn you will be too fast. If you see yourself overtaking the aircraft in front of you, fix it and slow down, or if needed, climb above 1,200ft and return to initial to try again.
    • After the break you should be 1NM to 1.5NM miles from the runway. At [INSERT FULCRUM AIRFIELD NAME] you should be XXXXX and XX miles DME from TCN. Continue on speed descending you end up at 600ft when abeam.
    • The abeam position is perpendicular to your touchdown point. Note, the touchdown point is not the runway threshold – it is where you intend to touch down.
    • Once you are abeam, make the position call “[Side Number], abeam, gear down, full stop, [runway #]”. Note that every position call up until this point is made only by Lead, but every aircraft including the wingmen make the abeam position call. If your gear is still coming down when you are abeam you should say “gear in transit” instead of “gear down”, however, you will then need to make another call once gear is down and locked (i.e. “[Side Number], gear down and locked, short final”).
    • After the abeam call begin your descent from 600ft and start your base turn to land. Wingman should rollout on the opposite side of the runway as lead (i.e. just like staggered taxi).

    • Things to Remember: As flight lead you make 3 position calls:
    o Initial using event callsign
    o Numbers using event callsign
    o Abeam using side number
    • As a wingman, you only make one position call:
    o Abeam using side number
    VFR Conditions - Night:
    6. The standard daytime VFR recovery for the 101st is the Overhead Entry. Figure [X.X INSERT] below illustrates how the approach is flown.
    IFR Conditions:
    7. The standard daytime VFR recovery for the 101st is the Overhead Entry. Figure [X.X INSERT] below illustrates how the approach is flown.
    Exceptions / Combat / Emergencies:
    8. The standard daytime VFR recovery for the 101st is the Overhead Entry. Figure [X.X INSERT] below illustrates how the approach is flown.

    Standard Approach – Overhead Entry

    The standard VFR approach for land-based airfields is the Overhead Entry.

    Overhead Break
    Note that the overhead break looks the same as the carrier-landing pattern. This is by design to train you for landing on the boat.

    1. All returning aircraft with ordinance will de-arm at the EOR.
    Note: You may need to use NWS HI in order to swing the aircraft back around into the EOR.
    2. When landing at Tonopah Test Range Airport, all 101st aircraft will park in the Delta Ramp in any open HAS facing west.

    Air to Air Refueling
    Air to Air Refueling (AAR) is a common activity in the 1st VFW and therefore is practiced on every IQT flight. It is important that the recruit become proficient at AAR and should review this material and all Wing SOPs regarding AAR. You do not need to be an expert at AAR to start IQT; you don’t even have to be able to do it but you must be able to accomplish it within Wing guidelines to complete IQT.
    The F/A-18 does not carry a lot of fuel, so air-to-air refueling is a must. The aircraft that you will find yourself tanking from in DCS will be the KC-130, and the KC-135.
    First, the recruit needs to find the tanker. There are essentially four ways to find the tanker:
    • Contact AWACS for vectors
    • Heading to a known tanker location that was specified in the briefing.
    • Use the FCR to locate potential tanker contacts (assuming you already know roughly where to look)
    • Use the tanker’s TACAN channel to receive distance and if being broadcast, the bearing.
    The standard formation for refueling is left echelon where all ships waiting to take fuel are on the left wing of the tanker and stacked high off each other (the recruit can tell if stacked enough if the recruit can see the opposite wing of the tanker). When an aircraft is done refueling they move to the same position on the right wing of the tanker (now echelon right and again stacked high).
    Pre-Tanker Checks
    The following steps should be taken prior to reaching the left observation station at the tanker and are typically done more than 3-5nm away from the tanker:
    1. Radar - STBY/SILENT/EMCON
    2. MASTER ARM switch - SAFE
    3. Internal wing fuel switch - AS DESIRED
    4. External tanks - AS DESIRED
    If engine feed tank fuel level is critical, external wing and centerline transfer should be in STOP or ORIDE to ensure the fastest transfer of fuel to the engine feed tanks.
    5. Air refuel PROBE switch - EXTEND
    For night air refueling -
    6. Exterior lights - STEADY BRIGHT
    7. Tanker lights - AS DESIRED

    Cleared to Pre-Contact Position
    To refuel from the tanker, you will first need to contact the tanker through the comms menu. Every flight member will need to do this.
    Once the tanker has cleared you to Pre-Contact, acknowledge the call on the tanker frequency then move to the pre-contact position.

    Cleared to Contact Position
    Once you believe that you are in position, you will use the comms menu and select the command, “Ready Pre-Contact”. If you are in the correct position, the tanker will say, “Cleared Contact” and the drogue will extend from the aircraft. You are then free to connect to the tanker.

    NOTE: If there are two receivers, the 2nd aircraft will declare pre-contact first so that his/her drogue is extended first, the leading aircraft will then call for his drogue after he sees the tanker’s left drogue appear he/she can declare pre-contact. This is currently a DCS limitation.
    Once you have maneuvered into the pre-contact position, you will need to declare to the tanker that you are in pre-contact position.
    Upon disconnecting from the tanker, the pilot may need to use the command “Abort Rejoin” to release the tanker for another aircraft to use from the comms menu if the pilot didn’t top off the tanks. If the tanker declares, “Transfer Complete” then the player doesn’t need to do anything.

    In either instance, the pilot will declare over the tanker frequency, “(Callsign), disconnect” and move to the tankers right wing in a right echelon. The pilot will wait for their flight lead or the rest of their flight to rejoin.

    NOTE: It is important to leave space for your wingmen or flight lead to rejoin on the tanker’s right wing.


    Anchor(ed) – 1. A turning engagement at a specified location.
    2. Orbit around a specific point. Usually given by a steerpoint number and altitude or off bullseye with altitude.

    Angel(s) – Altitude in thousands of feet.

    Arizona – Used to indicate you are out HARMS

    Blind – let your wingman know you do NOT have him (or some other friendly) in sight.

    Bogey vs. Bandit – Just like how Tally and Visual have implied meanings (friendly or hostile), there is a difference between a “Bogey” or “Bandit”. Bogey means the threat is unknown to be friendly or hostile, and Bandit means the threat is known to be hostile. Use them accordingly. (Note: “Contact” can also be used in place of “Bogey”, i.e. – “2 has the contact off my left at 10will not likely o’clock”).

    BRAA – Less of a brevity word itself and rather an acronym for Bearing (or Bullseye location), Range, Altitude and Aspect…the 4 items that make up an ideal call out of a contact. For example, “Contact, 20 left at 40 miles, 22 thousand…hot” would mean that around your 11 o’clock position there is an unknown aircraft 40 miles away at 22,000 feet coming at you.

    Bruiser – Used to indicate the friendly release of an air-launched anti-ship missile. Harpoon, Exocet, or Penguin.

    Broke Lock – Informative call made to alert friendly aircraft that missile guidance has been lost for either an IR or a radar guided missile.

    Buddy Lock – When locked onto a friendly aircraft this call is made. Usually this call is made in response to a buddy spike or a spike call.

    Buddy Spike – A call made by a friendly aircraft when locked by another friendly aircraft, the locked aircraft must give it’s position, heading, and altitude.

    Buster – Maximum continuous speed.

    Contact – Contact is a neutral term that can be used to mean the recruit sees anything of reference (aircraft, radar contact, vehicle, mountain, road, etc.). It does not imply hostile or friendly. Just means the recruit visually sees (in the world or on the radar scope) whatever is being referenced.

    Dakota – Used to indicate you are out of A-G weapons.

    No Joy – like Blind except used when referring to non-friendlies (you are “blind” on your flight lead, you are “no joy” on the MiG-29 about to sneak up on you).

    Fox-1 – This call is for launching an SARH missile. Missiles in this class would be the AIM-7 and the AIM-54.

    Fox-2 – This is the call for firing any IR class missile; in the case of the F-16 that’s typically the AIM-9 family of missiles.

    Fox-3 – This indicates a launch of an active radar missile, specifically the AIM-120 on the F-16.

    Gate – Afterburner use is authorized or is in use.

    Group – Radar contacts within 3 nautical miles of each other.

    Hot / Neutral / Cold – Hot is used to describe an aircraft that has its nose pointed at you. Neutral means the aircraft’s nose is perpendicular to yours (90 degrees different from the recruit), and Cold means the aircraft’s nose is pointing away from you. The same can apply to the attitude of the pilot’s aircraft nose (i.e. if turning away from the bandit you could say “2 is cold” or “2 is turning cold”, meaning you’re turning away from the bandit or fight).

    Kansas – This is a weapons state call out to indicate that you no longer have any A-A missiles on board.
    For example, “2 is 3 0 1 Plus 6.7” meaning that #2 has 3 AMRAAMs, no Sparrows, 1 Heater, gun ammo and 6700 lbs of fuel on board.

    Maddog – Release of an AIM-120 or any other active missile launched without radar guidance from the supporting aircraft.

    Magnum – Launch of a friendly anti-radiation missile.

    MAR (Minimum Abort Range) – This is the minimum distance you want to be from the bandit to avoid being hit by any weapons he launches. Selection of an appropriate MAR means knowing your enemy and specifically the weapons he carries; a bandit that can carry only AA-8s has a much lower MAR than one that carries AA-12s. You can discover a lot about your potential adversary by utilizing the OOB in the 2D map to find enemy airbases and squadrons. Knowing that the most lethal threat in the area is a MiG-23 allows you to use the Tactical Reference to determine that the most lethal AA missile that you will encounter is an AA-7R with a range of 19nm and a MAR of less than half that distance.
    Also note that your MAR can be dynamic based on the current tactical situation. For example, if you are on the deck and see a MiG-29 at 30,000ft his missile is going to be able to travel a lot further than yours due to the altitude difference. Rough rule of thumb is to add a mile for every 2-3,000ft of altitude advantage the bandit has.

    Mud – used in conjunction with the type of SA threat detected on the RWR to indicate that the pilot has received an indication of that threat. Example, “Mud 5, 3 o’clock, outer ring” indicates the RWR has picked up an SA-3 search radar.

    Nails – Used to indicate an airborne warning received on your RWR. For example, “Nails, MiG-29, 3 o’clock, outer ring”.

    Nevada – Used to indicate you are out Mavericks

    Paveway – Used to indicate the release of a laser guided weapon

    Pitbull – This indicates that your radar guided missile has now gone active allowing you to break lock.

    Say State / What State – This is a request from your lead to inform him of your current AA load out. Lead will typically read out his state first. The format of the response is:
    - # of active radar missiles (AIM-120),
    - # of semi-active missiles (AIM-7 / Sparrows)
    - # of heat seeking missiles (AIM-9 family or similar)
    - “Plus” or “Minus” to indicate if you have rounds remaining (or not) for the 20mm cannon
    - Thousands of pounds of fuel on board (similar to the Ops check)

    Saddled – Aircraft has returned to his or her designated spot in the formation. Usually used after an aircraft has stripped from the formation.

    Skip it – Directive to ignore a particular target or threat.

    Skosh – Aircraft is out of air to air missiles or is unable to employ them.

    Slapshot – Directive call for an aircraft to use a HARM against a specified threat on a specified bearing but at an unknown range.

    Singer – Used in conjunction with the type of SA threat actively launching a missile. Example: “Singer! SA-3, 2 o’clock”.

    Sort – process of selecting FCR contacts to ensure that pilots aren’t doubling up on the same contact. This can be done by referring to the bullseye location of the bogey, or by referencing the FCR with phrases such as, “1 has lead, two take trailer”, “1 has left, 2 take right”

    Spiked – Used to indicate an airborne warning of a hard lock from your RWR. For example, “Redtail32, spiked, MiG-29”.

    Stripped/Stripping – letting your lead know you have had to pull away from the formation (typically used on rejoin overshoots or if directed to leave the formation.

    Strober / Strobing Contact – Contacts that are emitting a jamming signal will show up on your FCR as chevrons that seem to bounce around a bit and cannot be locked. An example call might be “Strober’s, 12 o’clock approx. 60 nm”.

    Tied – let lead know you have him on radar but not in sight; typically used on T/O if you can’t see your flight lead but have him on radar and can track him.

    Tally – let your wingman know you have the enemy in sight.

    Visual – let your lead know that you see him or something friendly

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