Air-To-Air Glossary

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General Air-To-Air


Combat Air Patrol - to establish/maintain air superiority in a specific area by supressing or destroying hostile flying aircraft. There are many types of CAP missions and, loosely used, the term CAP has come to include all types of Air-To-Air missions.


Offensive Counter Air - to establish air superiority over enemy territory by destroying/supressing air assets - often through a combination of ground strikes (on air infrastructure) and CAP. OCA missions can be divided into four general categories: sweep, screen, close-escort, HVAP and self-escort.


Defensive Counter Air - to deny enemy air superiority over friendly/captured territory, usually through a combination of CAP, SAMs and AAA. DCA can be either area defense or point defense, the latter meaning the defense of a specific object or installation - for example a power plant or an airfield.


Rules Of Engagement. A varying set of rules that define conditions to meet before a non-cooperating target can be engaged.


Airborne warning and control system. In DCS typically E2, E3 or A50 (Russian). Your AWACS operator is always right and highly intelligent and sometimes drunk.


Situational Awareness - Your mental picture of the current situation in your nearby airspace. Including but not limited to aircraft positions, their velocities and any weapons being employed.


Beyond Visual Range. Usually beyond 10 NM, sometimes less.


Within Visual Range - when engaging a bandit with visual contact, typically within 10 NM range.


When your distance to a bandit is so small that you are effectively in a dogfight. The term originates from "radar blips" merging into one blip, on older radar systems.

Fox 1

Informative call when firing a semi-active radar-homing (SARH) missile, which requires assistance from the aircraft radar all the way to the target. Example: AIM-7.

Fox 2

Informative call when firing a heat-seeking missile. Example: AIM-9.

Fox 3

Informative call when firing an active radar-guided missile. Includes AIM-54 and AIM-120. If this call is broadcasted on a common frequency, consider adding location and target information to the radio message. This lets other flights know that an active medium/long-range self-guided missile is in the air in the specified area.

Slant range

Line-of-sight distance between two objects, for example two fighter aircraft.



Corner velocity

Indicated airspeed at which you will have the maximum sustainable turn-rate. Depends on airframe and weight, but on a typical F-16C it's near 440 KIAS, on a typical F/A-18C it's closer to 350 KIAS. Not to be confused with max G, which is usually not sustainable.

2-circle vs 1-circle fight

Dogfights tend to be either 2-circle or 1-circle fights. In a 2-circle fight the fighters will be turning away from each other, their paths painting two circles if viewed from above. In a 1-circle fight the fighters are turning toward each other, their paths painting a single circle if viewed from above.

Pure Pursuit

To point your flight vector at a moving target, causing a slow, gradual intercept on the target’s 6 o clock. Pure pursuit, simply put, means you are pointing your nose directly at the target.

Fighter Brief example of pure pursuit

Lead Pursuit

To point your flight vector in front of a moving target, which will result in a higher closing velocity and more rapid intercept. Lead pursuit, simply put, means you are pointing your nose in front of the target.

Fighter Brief example of lead pursuit

Lag Pursuit

To point your flight vector behind a moving target. This will not result in an intercept, but will allow you to stay on the target’s turn circle, which makes it hard for the target hostile to counter-attack. Lag pursuit, simply put, means your are pointing your nose behind the target.

Fighter Brief example of lag pursuit

BVR Concepts


Request for or information on a target. The response can be one of:

  • friendly
  • bogey (unknown)
  • bandit (NOT cleared to engage unless engaged by)
  • hostile (cleared to engage).


To fly in a direction so that a bandit will be to your left or right while still in your radar scope. Often a crank will be done at the maximum angle allowed by the radar antenna - 60-70 degrees off nose on many modern fighters. This common maneuver is performed primarily to minimize the closing velocity while still maintaining a radar lock on the bandit. A secondary purpose of a crank is to increase the amount of energy needed by a hostile missile to hit you - effectively shrinking the bandit’s WEZ.

Video showing a crank maneuver (youtube)


To fly in a direction so that a bandit or missile is at your 3 or 9 o’clock. In an engagement this is a defensive move to make a missile lose energy due to it taking maximum lead for an intercept.

Video showing a beaming maneuver (youtube)


Very similar to beaming but with the purpose of zeroing out your own closing velocity from the bandit’s or missile’s point of view. This causes the doppler shift of your radar echo to be near zero, which makes your echo hard to distinguish from the ground/water when you are flying at a lower altitude than the hostile radar, sometimes causing the radar to lose track of you. A notch is done by placing the bandit or missile on your 3 or 9 o’clock, just like a beam.

Video showing a notch maneuver (youtube)


Flying away from a threat.


Flying towards a threat.


Directive/information that a friendly is going cold. Not necessarily in a straight line.


Information that an engaged bandit has gone cold.


A CAP flying pattern where two fighters will be counter-rotating in an orbit or racetrack, in order to keep radar and weapons pointed in anticipated threat direction at all times.

Launch-and-leave (”L&L”)

To launch an active radar-guided missile at a target and then turn away from the target when the missile goes pitbull (self-guides).


To execute launch-and-leave tactic outside of DOR, which means you have enough room to recommit with a second shot without entering MAR. Requires an active missile like the AIM-120.

Video showing a skate maneuver (youtube)

Short skate

To execute launch-and-leave tactic outside MAR but within DOR. Requires an active missile like the AIM-120.

Video showing a short skate maneuver (youtube)


To execute launch-and-decide tactic, which means you will launch and then press to a merge if necessary. SARH (AIM-7) is a suitable missile for banzai if active missiles are not available. If you have a substantial BVR advantage, banzai and short skate are similar tactics because you can execute a launch-and-decide before MAR.

Video showing a banzai maneuver (youtube)


When an active radar-guided missile switches to its own radar guidance for the terminal phase.

Shot trashed

When a missile has lost track of its target and/or is kinetically defeated.


When a missile is no longer active - meaning it has either intercepted its target or the shot has been trashed.


Distance between fighter and bandit at the time a launched missile intercepts the bandit. Mostly relevant when firing semi-active radar-guided missiles because they require you to maintain lock until interception.


Distance between fighter and bandit at the time a launched missile goes active (pitbull) and self-guides to target. This term only applies to active radar-guided missiles.


Same as (Minimum Abort Range)


To launch a missile without a lock, which causes it to track the first target its sensor may detect. This can be done defensively against other missiles, or in a pressed situation where you may have a clue where the bandit is but haven’t been able to acquire a lock yet.


When a radar searches for or tracks a target at lower altitude, which means either ground or water is behind the target. Many radars will have difficulties tracking a target while in look-down.

Bullseye call

Location information on a target given in bearing and distance from a pre-briefed location (”bullseye”) in the theater of operation. Also includes altitude of target.

BRAA call

Bearing, range, altitude, aspect (optionally). Information on a target given in the fighter’s frame of reference, meaning the bearing is the bearing from the fighter to the target, etc.


Desired Out Range - the distance to a hostile required to execute launch-and-leave AND recommit with a launch-and-decide tactic.


Minimum Abort Range - smallest distance from which you will be able to outrun a hostile missile fired at you, if you go cold. This distance is basically the same as the enemy’s NEZ towards you.


Weapon Engagement Zone - shortest and longest distances from which you could expect to hit a target with a specific type of missile. Varies greatly with relative velocity and altitude of both you and the bandit.


No Escape Zone - distance to bandit at which your missile will hit even if the bandit immediately goes cold when you launch.