Mission Procedures

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In this example, you are a two-ship F/A-18C Hornet flight called Adder1 ("Adder One") on a strike mission. Since you are #1 in the flight and your buddy is #2, you are called Adder11 ("Adder One One") and your wingman is called Adder12 ("Adder One Two"). Even when contacting someone representing your whole flight, you call yourself Adder11.

NOTE: There is a supporting Youtube video showcasing this example. We encourage you to watch this video when you study this.


Complete the aircraft startup.

If your aircraft radio is able to tune in manual frequency, listen to ATIS on 270.500 for information on active runway, QNH and weather. Also take note of the information ID ("Charlie", "Delta").

Switch to Ground (Ch 6).

Perform a quick check-in, to make sure your wingman/wingmen are on the same channel.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Use the kneeboard airport page, along with F2/F10 camera to find out where you are located. For instance "Ramp South" (in the north part of Kutaisi).

Contact Ground (GND) on Ch 6, stating who and where you are. Be ready to readback active runway and QNH.

Pilot: "Ground, Adder11"
GND: "Adder11, Ground"
Pilot: "Adder1, two-ship Hornets on Ramp South (with information Charlie)" *
GND: "Adder11, runway 25 in use, QNH 2992."
Pilot: "25 in use, QNH 2992."
GND: "Readback correct, advice when ready for clearance"

*Only say "with information [ID]" if you listened to the ATIS info. If not, you will get a slightly different call from Ground, providing weather info. Note that active runway and QNH is always provided and should be read back, regardless of ATIS.

GND: "Adder11, weather is CAVOK. Wind 270, 2 knots, Runway 25 in use, QNH 2992." *

*CAVOK (kav-okay) means "Ceiling and visibility OK" (i.e. good flying weather).

With QNH set, contact GND again for clearance. Be ready to take notes, as you are required to readback the clearance.

Pilot: "Ground, Adder11, ready to copy clearance"
GND: "Adder11, after departure turn right Exit North. 1500 ft or below"
Pilot: "After departure turn right, Exit North, 1500 ft or below, Adder11"

Reflect a few seconds about what this means and take a look in the charts to identify where this "Exit Kishon" is, and if there are any useful landmarks that will help you find it. Visualize the path you’ll be flying after takeoff.


When ready to taxi, contact Ground again. Be ready to take quick notes as ground will now give you taxi instructions.

Pilot: "Adder11, requesting taxi."
GND: "Adder11 cleared taxi Sierra Echo and hold short Runway 25."
Pilot: "Cleared taxi Sierra Echo and hold short Runway 25, Adder11."

Take a look in the kneeboard, find the mentioned taxiways, and make up a plan for how to get to Runway 25 by taxiing on those taxiways.

Start taxiing. Don’t go too fast. It’s easy to miss a turn. When you have reached the runway (but not entered it, since they asked you to "hold short"), contact ground again (unless they have already contacted you with instructions).

Pilot: "Adder1 holding short, Runway 25"
GND: "Adder11, Contact Tower on channel 7"
Pilot: "Tower on 7. Adder11." (single aircraft) OR "Adder1, channel 7, push" (flight of 2+)

Switch to Tower Ch 7, and perform a flight check in.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Let the tower know that you are ready to go.

Pilot: "Tower, Adder11, at runway 25, ready for departure"
TWR: "Adder11, line up and wait runway 25"
Pilot: "Line up and wait 25, Adder11"

Now taxi onto the runway coming to a stop with #1 to the left and #2 to the right slightly behind. If there is a #3 and/or a #4 they should get behind #1 and #2 in a similar manner. If there is significant wind coming from the left, mirror the formation so that #1 stands to the right etc instead.

TWR: "Adder11, right turnout, cleared for take-off runway 25"
Pilot: "Right turn out, cleared for take-off, 25, Adder11"

Take off and exit

Take off in pairs or as single aircraft with 15 second separation. When airborne, turn towards the exit point, staying below 300 kts and 1500 feet. Expect instructions to switch to control.

TWR: "Adder11, contact control on channel 8"
Pilot: "Control on 8, Adder11" (single aircraft) OR "Adder1, channel 8, push" (flight of 2+)

Switch to Control Ch 8 and, and perform a flight check in.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Let them know that you are on your way,

Pilot: "Control, Adder11, at 1500 ft"
CTL: "Adder11, radar contact, climb to Angels 15"
Pilot: "Climbing to Angels 15, Adder11"

When reaching the exit point, expect instructions to switch to AWACS.

CTL: "Adder11, contact Stingray on channel 3"
Pilot: "Stingray on 3, Adder11" (single aircraft) OR "Adder1, channel 3, push" (flight of 2+)

Contacting AWACS

Switch to Package Ch 3, and perform a flight check in.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Perform an AIC (Aeronautical Information Circular) check in with the commanding agency on the channel (usually an AWACS). This often involves an authentication. In this example the RAMROD is "GRANDSLICE", so G and A generates the answer R.

Pilot: "Stingray, Adder11"	
Stingray: "Adder11, Stingray"		
Pilot: "Stingray, Adder11, Bullseye 065 for 40, Angels 15, as fragged"
Stingray: "Stingray copy, Adder11 authenticate Golf Alpha"
Pilot: "Adder11 authenticates Romeo"
Stingray: "Stingray Radar Contact"

Holding and Push

Continue on your mission. In this example you are on a strike mission. It’s common to have a pre-briefed "push time" and a "time on target". The push time tells when you are supposed to leave holding around a certain point (often marked by a waypoint) and continue towards your target (often marked by another waypoint). The reason for this is to make sure you’re in sync with other flights in your package, as planned.

Continue towards your holding point and orbit around it. 250-300 kts IAS is generally a good speed when holding. When it’s getting close to your push time, adjust your turn so that you get your nose towards the target as close to the push time as possible. Report on the package channel that your flight is pushing.

Pilot: "Adder1 pushing"

The Attack

In most cases, the leg taking you from hold to target, is planned in a way to put you on the target on the briefed "Time-on-target" (TOT) if you fly at around M 0.8-M 0.9. Sometimes lower depending on aircraft type among other factors. Regardless, you have to monitor your systems and adjust speed to make sure you hit your TOT. In the Hornet, in the top corner of your HSI you can see the estimated time it will take to fly to the selected waypoint.

For high altitude JDAM drops (which is very common for strike missions), as a rule of thumb, fly fast enough that the HSI tells you that you will arrive (overfly) the target waypoint 15-30 seconds before your TOT. The reason for this is that it will take some time for your bombs to reach the ground. Being 15-30 seconds early will put you in the ballpark. You will get into max range roughly 90 seconds before your TOT, and this is roughly how long it takes for the bomb to reach the target. Call out on package when you release your bombs:

Pilot: "Adder11, one away"
Wingman: "Adder12, one away"

As soon as you have dropped your bombs, turn around towards friendly territory. Don’t overfly the target area. As you were on a strike mission in this example, there is normally little reason to stick around, so point your nose towards the home base, and let AWACS know that your flight has dropped the bombs ("Miller Time") and is returning to base ("RTB").

Pilot: "Stingray, Adder11"
Stingray: "Adder11, Stingray"
Pilot: "Adder1 Miller Time, requesting RTB"
Stingray: "Copy, RTB"

Returning to Base

When you get close to the base (often somewhere between 25 and 80 nm), AWACS will push you over to Control. If you haven’t heard anything, before 25 nm, feel free to request a switch to Control.

Stingray: "Adder11, Stingray"
Pilot: "Stingray, Adder11"
Stingray: "Adder11, contact Kutaisi Control on Channel 8"
Pilot: "Control on 8, Adder11" (single aircraft) OR "Adder1, channel 8, push" (flight of 2+)

Switch to Control Ch 8, and perform a flight check in.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Contact control, telling them who you are, distance, altitude and fuel state.

Pilot: "Kutaisi Control, Adder11"
CTL: "Adder11, Control"
Pilot: "Control, Adder11, two-ship Hornets, inbound, 35 miles north of Kutaisi at Angels 12, lowest state 4.5."
CTL: "Adder11, radar contact, turn left/right heading 150 to join via Entry East"
Pilot: "150 to join via Entry East, Adder11"
CTL: "Adder11, descend to 1500 feet"
Pilot: "Descend to 1500 feet, Adder11"

Control will continue guiding you to a position which takes you to the airfield from the correct direction (i.e along the radial of the active runway). You might have to hold a while at this position (in a left hand orbit), but can sometimes be cleared for approach without holding. When you get near the airfield, they will hand you over to tower.

CTL: "Adder11, contact Tower on Channel 7"
Pilot: "Tower on 7, Adder11" (single aircraft) OR "Adder1, channel 7, push" (flight of 2+)

Switch to Tower Ch 7, and perform a flight check in.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Contact Tower:

Pilot: "Tower, Adder11, Entry East"
Tower: "Adder11 report runway in sight"
Pilot: "Report runway in sight, Adder11"


When you see the runway, contact tower again:

Pilot: "Tower, Adder11, runway in sight"
Tower: "4-ship Adder11, wind 270, 2 knots, cleared for left overhead break runway 25"
Pilot: "Cleared for left overhead break runway 25, Adder11"

Line up with the runway, flying 300 kts IAS at 1500 feet. Perform the overhead break. The flight lead should contact the tower to receive landing clearance by stating his position either in the base turn or on final. The landing clearance is valid for the wingmen as well. They don't need individual clearances.

Pilot: "Adder11 on final"
Tower: "4-ship Adder11, Tower, wind 270, 2 knots, runway 25 cleared to land!"
Pilot: "Runway25, Cleared to land, Adder11"

Taxi to Parking

If this wasn’t a touch-n-go, after landing, tower will push you to the Ground channel.

Tower: "Adder11, contact Ground on channel 6"
Pilot: "Ground on 6, Adder11" (single aircraft) OR "Adder1, channel 6, push" (flight of 2+)

Switch to Ground Ch 6, and perform a flight check in.

Pilot: "Adder1"
Wingman: "2"

Contact ground for parking instructions

Pilot: "Ground, Adder11"
GND: "Adder11, Ground"
Pilot: "Ground, Adder11, rolling off runway 25, requesting taxi to parking"
GND: "Adder11, cleared taxi to Ramp North via Alpha November"
Pilot: "Cleared to Ramp North via Alpha November, Adder11"

Taxi as instructed, park and shut down.