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Home >> Aviation guides >> Intercept


A short guide for the basics of intercepting flights, mostly for offensive operations such as visual identification, but also applicable for joins with friendly aircraft.

Basic principles:

Vertical separation 
You need a vertical separation for an intercept which depends on altitude, airspeed and bank angle. A rule of thumb is 40 000 feet (12 km / 6.5 NM) for a head on situation. The turn radius is half this distance.
Lag - pure - lead pursuit 
You start the intercept by lag pursuit and the target should pass your centerline for a lead pursuit just before half the turn for a head on intercept.
Starting turn 
For a head on intercept you need to start the turn when the range to the target is approximately 3.7 times the turn radius. The targets angle off the nose should always be 32.5 degrees at the start of the turn.

Head-on intercept geometry

Intercept geom R2.png

Animated intercepts

Top view

Join topviev.gif

Radar PPI view

Join PPI.gif