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Glossary of Military and Related Terms


Confused by those weird terms like DASS and HOTAS? Ready to go nuts every time someone asks if you checked your TEWS? Check it out in our glossary.

Terms Related to Combat Systems

DASS = Defensive Aids Sub System

EWS = Early Warning System, also Electronic Warfare System

IR = Infra Red

HOTAS = Hands On Throttle and Stick.

A HOTAS control system includes separate throttle and joystick controls with a myriad of buttons and knobs. The Thrustmaster and CH systems are typical.

IFDL = In-Flight Data Link

JTIDS = Joint Tactical Information Display

JSTARS = Joint Strategic Targeting and Ranging Systems

LANTIRN = Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night

MFD = Multi Function Display (CRT)

RCS = Radar Cross Section

RWR = Radar Warning Receiver

TEWS = Tactical Early Warning System

TWS= Threat Warning System

General Terms Related to Military Engagement

ACM = Air Combat Manouvers

ANGLE OF ATTACK = The angle of the wing relative to airflow, NOT relative to the ground. This angle affects the amount of lift generated, see STALL below.

ATO = Air Tasking Order

BFM = Basic Fighter Manouvers

BULLSEYE = A Bullseye is a map location determined prior to flight that is used to help pilots refer to locations via radio without having the enemy know where they are, where they are going, or where the target is.

CAP = Combat Air Patrol

CHAFF = canisters of crinkly tinfoil like material that acts as a radar reflector to distract radar guided missiles

CSAR = Combat Search and Rescue

DPS = turn rate in degrees per second

DRAG = When the wing travels through the air, it's surface area pushes the air in front of it to form a higher pressure area for it to travel through. This is known as DRAG. The higher the Angle of Attack, the higher the Drag. Additionally the more streamlined the aircraft, the less the drag. For any given aircraft, drag can increase and decrease depending on the conditions. For example, lowering your flaps and/or landing gear will INCREASE your drag.

FAC = Forward Air Controller (often a helicopter)

FEBA = Forward Edge of the Battlefield

FLARES = magnesium based material that ignites to act as an IR source to distract heat seeking missiles

IHOP = International House of Pancakes (??)

GCI = Ground Control Interception is a way of coordinating the information between one radar station and the next. Information from one station is passed on to all others in the network.

G (FORCE) = 1 G is one times the force of gravity. An experienced pilot may experience up to 10g for a couple of seconds before losing consciousness. Most fighter aircraft are capable of 9g.

HITG = "Hole in the Ground." Thing you make when you run out of altitude and skill at the same time.

LIFT = As the wing moves through air, the airfoil's shape causes the air moving OVER the wing to travel faster than the air moving UNDER the wing. The faster airflow generates lower pressure than the slower air traveling under the wing. The resultant higher pressure is LIFT.

MACH = one time the speed of sound, a velocity where varies by altitude and air density.

RWS Radar
RWS Radar.

SEAD = Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses

STALL = When the AOA is too great, the airflow OVER the wing is disrupted and will cause a loss in lift, known as STALL. This condition usually occurs when the aircraft is flying too slow, or attempted to gain altitude too rapidly. Stalling will generally cause the aircraft to go into a dive.

TACAN = Tactical Aid to Navigation system.

THRUST = When the propeller on the aircraft engine rotates, it pulls in air from the front and pushes it out the back. The force generated by this pushing is THRUST. Thrust gives the aircraft forward momentum which generates lift. Generally, the greater the thrust, the greater the airspeed.

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Terms Used in Air Combat Communications

ANGELS = Height of aircraft in thousands of feet

APEX/ALAMO = Training term used to denote simulated launch of enemy, all-aspect radar missile.

APHID/ARCHER = Training term used to denote simulated launch of enemy, rear hemisphere heat seeking missiles.

ASPECT ANGLE = The angle between the longitudinal axis of the target (projected rearward) and the line-of-sight to the fighter, measured from the tail of the target. The attackers heading is not a consideration. (Whenever the attacker is pointed at the bogey, angle-off and aspect are the same.)

ATOLL = Rear hemisphere heat-seeking missile.

ARROW = formation in the shape of an arrow head

BANDIT = An enemy aircraft, possibly of unknown type.

BINGO = fuel reserves only sufficient for RTB

BOGEY = A radar/visual contact whose identity is unknown.

BOGEY DOPE = A request for bearing and range to bogey and as available, heading, speed, and altitude.

BRACKET = manouver designed to split enemy attention and resources

BREAK = sudden turn in vertical or horizontal plane to avoid enemy weapons. Assumes a defensive situation.

BROADCAST = Request/directive to switch to Broadcast Control.

BROKE LOCK = Loss of radar/IR lock-on (advisory).

BUDDY SPIKE (Position/Azimuth/Altitude) = Receiving friendly AIRWR.

BUGOUT (Direction) = Combat separation for low fuel, loss of tactical advantages or accomplishments of mission objectives; intent is to permanently separate from that particular engagement/attack.

CLEARED = Requested action is authorized (no engaged/support roles are assumed).

CLEARED DRY = Ordnance release not authorized.

CLEARED HOT = Ordnance release is authorized.

CLOSE CONTROL = The maximum degree of control that GCI can provide.

CLOSING = Bandit/bogey/target is getting closer in range.

COMMITTED/COMMIT = Fighter intent to engage/intercept; weapons director (WD) continues to provide information.

CONNING = Leaving contrails or otherwise marking aircraft position.

CONTACT = Radar/IR contact at the stated position; should be in bearing, range, altitude (BRA), Bullseye, or geographic position format.

CONTACT = Radar and/or IP pick-up at the stated position. Position usually stated in magnetic bearing, range, altitude (BRA), Bullseye, or geographic position format if locked on. Friend or foe unknown.

CONTINUE = Continue present maneuver; does not imply clearance to engage or expend ordnance.

DRAG = manouver designed to seduce enemy aircraft to follow one aircraft while another gets on his six to destroy him

ECHELON = an in-line formation designed to disguise the number in formation

ELEMENT = Formation of two aircraft.

ENGAGED = Maneuvering with the intent of achieving a kill. If no additional information is provided (bearing, range, etc.), ENGAGED implies visual/radar acquisition of target.

ENGAGED (FIGHTER) = Indicates the fighter or element is maneuvering to attain or deny weapons release parameters or is in the visual arena maneuvering in relation to the targetWC stops providing specific target information and continues with situation awareness information.

EXTEND (LEFT/RIGHT) = Gain energy and distance using proper energy profile with the possible objective of reentering the fight.

EYEBALL = Fighter with primary visual identification (VID) responsibility.

FEET WET/DRY = Flying over water/land.

FENCE = Boundary separating hostile and friendly area.

FENCE CHECK = Set cockpit switches as appropriate.

FOLLOW DOLLY = Follow data-link commands.

FOX = Air-to-air weapons employment.

FOX ONE = Simulated/actual launch of radar-guided missile.

FOX TWO = Simulated/actual launch of infrared-guided missile.

FOX THREE = Simulated/actual launch of AMRAAM/Phoenix missile.

FOX FOUR = Bomber gunner has simulated firing on a target.

FOX MIKE = VHF/FM radio.

HELP! = Distress call of an overmatched pilot

INTERCEPT = An intercept can begin at virtually any distance beyond 15 NM. The object is to get outside of the enemy radar cone and prevent them from detecting your flight until you have launched on them within high Pk parameters. An advantage is maintaining formation integrity and isolating the threat to one side while also achieving a good altitude split in your formation.

IN TRAIL = Perform suggested maneuver maintaining relative position in formation.


JOKER = Prebriefed fuel state above Bingo at which separation/bugout/event termination should begin.

MUSIC = Radar blocking electronic counter measures detected or required

RTB = Return to Base

SANITIZE = perform a radar scan in given direction and report to Lead

SEPARATE = Leave the fight/engagement due to loss of advantage, change of odds or situation. Similar to bugout, except bugout is usually permanent separation. May or may not reenter.

SNAP SHOT = High angle off Attack or passing gun shot. Attacker's turn rate does not equal defender's LOS rate, whether intentional or unintentional.

SORTED = Criteria have been met which ensure individual flight members have separate contacts; criteria can be met visually, electronically (radar) or both. Final radar lock taken.

SPIKE = RWR indication of AT threat is displayed. Add clock position, and type threat (radar/heat) if able.

SPLASH = Missile time of flight is expired or missile destroyed; target or bomb impact.

SPREAD = distance in formation, sometimes with specific requirement

TALLY = Sighting of a target/bandit; opposite of "NO JOY".

TARGET() = Specification of sort responsibility.

THREAT (Direction) = (GCI/AWACS) Informative that an untargeted bandit/bogey is within 10 NM of a friendly.

VECTOR = Aircrew request / WC directive for a cutoff heading to the entity described.

VISUAL = Visual contact with friendly aircraft. Opposite of "BLIND".

WINCHESTER = weapons exhausted

For a more complete list see Operational Brevity

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Last Updated March 2nd, 1999

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