Standard Operating Procedures

The standard operating procedure is to act as a guide for DELTAFORCE pilots. It is applicable to all types of DELTAFORCE activities.
DELTAFORCE members are not expected to conduct every procedure perfectly, although should be expected to be at least roughly familiar in order to conduct missions in a safe and effective manner as to not negatively impact the experience of the other pilots. It will be complemented, but not conflicted, by material specific to the DELTAFORCE Schools, currently being Fighter School, Attack School and Naval School.

Written by:

  • [Delta-C5] Madfish
  • [Delta-L3] Spazz
  • [retired] GreyTesa
  • [Delta-L22] Camel
  • [Delta-L7] Lascar12F
  • [Delta-L34] Ken
  • [Delta-P47] Wolfman

Approved by: [Delta-G1] Murdock
Effective Date: 17OCT19

Review Date:
Approved By:

Next Review:
Approved By:

Chapter 1: Structure

DELTAFORCE, like many other squadrons, requires structure in order to operate.

Rank System

The ranks revision is work in progress - the following section is incomplete.


DELTAFORCE consists of Junior and Senior Officers. With greater rank comes greater responsibility.


Promotions work on a quarterly time scale. During each quarter year, senior officers put forward recommendations for promotions. Those who were put forward are then observed and tested during an evaluation period.

If a rank is needed to fill a role, an acting rank may be employed until the next promotion period.

Members may refuse a promotion, or request demotion, if they do not wish to carry rank or responsibility.


Certifications are work in progress - the following section is incomplete.


Certifications are a way to be able to track the skill level of pilots within the squadron.

Cert D
Start-up, Taxi, Take-off, Navigation (TACAN, WYPT), Basic Aerobatic Maneuvers, Traffic Patterns, Approach, Landing, Shut-down, VFR Ops, Basic Emergencies, Basic Formation Flight.

Cert C
Advanced Aerobatic Maneuvers, close group formation, IFR Ops, Aerial refueling daytime, threat avoidance and countermeasures, target area ingress and egress, basic 1v1 BVR.

Cert B
Aerial Refueling nighttime, competent air to ground and air to air, day and night engagement, SEAD.

Cert A
Flight instructor rating to assess up to Cert B.

Flight Schools

Schools are still work in progress - the following section is incomplete.


DELTAFORCE offers three optional specialist divisions focused on learning and practicing additional skill sets specific to the operational envelope.
These divisions, known as schools, teach their pilots various skills related to their specialty.
Once a pilot has completed the basic trainee program (found in Chapter 2: Trainee Program) and has become a full member of DELTAFORCE, they can choose to join (or not join) a particular school. In a school, the pilot can improve their abilities, take part in specialty operations, or help with the instruction of other pilots. However, pilots are not restricted to the school they have chosen to join and can freely take part and gain qualifications in the other schools. The activities and training are meant to act as additions to the main DELTAFORCE operations, rather than replacements.

  • Attack School
    The Attack School specializes in the training and execution of air-to-ground tactics and missions, as well as the deployment of air-to-ground munitions.
  • Fighter School
    The Fighter School specializes in the training and execution of air-to-air tactics and missions, including effective combat with the WVR/BFM and BVR space.
  • Naval School
    The Naval School specialized in the training and execution of Naval missions, including Case-I-III launches and recovery, and carrier based operations.

Chapter 2: Trainee Program


DELTAFORCE Flight Operations Training Course Syllabus

Show up for check ride:

  • On time
  • On the PC version of Discord with working PTT and decent audio quality
  • With the latest DCS openbeta installed
    You can check this here on the Eagle Dynamics Website.
  • Knowledgeable how to connect to multiplayer servers.
  • Working and configured SRS in the latest release version
    Tutorial: SRS setup guide
  • Installed skins in the latest version (check if works before qualifications).
    Tutorial: DELTAFORCE Skin Pack guide
  • Knowledge of chosen air frame you want to perform the check ride in.

Operational Checks: Testable items on the list below are graded on a pass / fail.
A fail on any of them will require rescheduling of the check ride for a later date of no less than 24 hours from the time of the last attempt.

  1. Basic briefing overview.
    (radio frequencies, friendly FARPS / airports, mission objectives, loadouts, etc.)
  2. Manual cold start chosen air frame and being able to explain the basic procedure for this.
  3. SRS radio check / PTT working (SRS)
  4. Comms and basic BREVITY familiarization
    1. Radio call out syntax and structure
      (Call sign of receiver > Your call sign > Request / Order)
      Example: Dodge 1-1, Dodge 1-2, BOGEY on your six.
    2. Basic radio protocols for taxi and takeoff
    3. In-flight comms protocols
      (when to use flight vs wing comms)
    4. Announcing weapon launches
      (when and why to call FOX 1,2,3 MAGNUM, RIFLE, etc.)
  5. Basic takeoff procedures / taxi to runway
  6. Basic SAM awareness & call outs
  7. Follow ATC instructions & Follow GCI instructions
    (Be able to vector to targets by GCI callouts both direct and BULLS-EYE FIXME, entering holding patterns above airbase)
  8. Navigate along waypoints (No F10 map) & air navigation to set waypoint
    (Navigate through a set of pre programmed waypoints)
  9. Formation Flight Basics
    (finding / following flight lead)
  10. Basic landing procedures & taxi from runway to parking pad
    (parking, repair, re-arm, refuel, shutting down.)

Chapter 3: Airfield Operations

Radio Procedures

DELTAFORCE is not using a full Comms Ladder within DCS currently.
Instead, due to DCS ATC system limitations, we are using a designated and briefed main channel for

  • calls within uncontrolled air field on ground and in airspace and/or
  • for human made ATC calls and directions on said main channel.

More on this in Chapter 4: Radio Procedures


Taxiing is the controlled movement of the aircraft under its own power while on the surface. Since an aircraft is moved under its own power between a parking area and the runway, the pilot must thoroughly understand and be proficient in taxi procedures.

The pilot must be vigilant of the entire area around the airplane to ensure that the airplane clears all obstructions. If, at any time, there is doubt about a safe clearance from an object, the pilot should stop the airplane and check the clearance.

When taxiing, the pilot’s eyes should be looking outside the airplane scanning from side to side while looking both near and far to assess routing and potential conflicts.

A safe taxiing speed must be maintained. The primary requirements for safe taxiing are positive control, the ability to recognize any potential hazards in time to avoid them, and the ability to stop or turn where and when desired, without undue reliance on the brakes. Taxi speed should be no greater than 30kts.

Pilots should proceed at a cautious speed on congested or busy ramps. Normally, the speed should be at the rate where movement of the airplane is dependent on the throttle. That is, slow enough so when the throttle is closed, the airplane can be stopped promptly.

The pilot should accurately place the aircraft centered on the taxiway at all times. Some taxiways have above ground taxi lights and signage that could impact the airplane if the pilot does not exercise accurate control. When yellow taxiway centerline stripes are marked, this is more easily accomplished by the pilot visually placing the centerline stripe so it is under the center of the airplane fuselage.

When taxiing, the pilot must slow down before attempting a turn. Sharp high-speed turns place undesirable side loads on the landing gear and may result in tire damage or an uncontrollable swerve or a ground loop. Swerves are most likely to occur when turning from a downwind heading toward an upwind heading. In moderate to high-wind conditions, the airplane may weathervane increasing the swerving tendency. Turns should be made at a speed no greater than 10kts.


Circuit Pattern

The circuit pattern is a rectangular pattern, used in VFR flight, consisting of five legs – the take-off, crosswind, downwind, base and final approach to the active runway. Aircraft in the pattern should maintain an altitude of no less than 500ft AGL and a no more of 1500ft AGL. High-performance aircraft (150-200kts) should maintain 1500ft AGL , Medium-performance aircraft (55-150kts) should maintain 1000ft AGL, and Low-performance aircraft (>55kts + some helis) should maintain 500ft AGL. The active runway is determined by wind direction as the take off and final stage of the circuit is flown into the wind, as this is the safest way for an aircraft to operate.

The circuit pattern is by default a left-hand turn (anticlockwise) pattern unless advised otherwise. Right-hand (clockwise) circuit patterns may be used if parallel runways are present, there are obstructive aerial operations (aerobatics, heli, parachute), or terrain obstacles.

Joining the circuit is done by flying over the runway at least 500ft above the high performance circuit (2000ft AGL) or by joining the circuit at the beginning, end, or part way along (at a 45° angle to) the downwind leg. If the circuit is clear, an arriving aircraft can join the final approach from three nautical miles out.

At locations with an air traffic control tower pilots must follow the instructions of air traffic control regarding the height they fly and how they may join or depart the circuit. Arrival paths in the circuit have been designed to give pilots the best visibility of other aircraft in the circuit or approaching the airport from outside the circuit.

Aircraft can depart from the circuit by extending one of the four legs and are only allowed to turn away from the extended leg when well clear of the circuit.

Overhead break / Initial point

For fast military jets and training aircraft the preferred method of joining the circuit is via a procedure known as ‘Overhead Break’ or ‘Initial and Pitch’. The aircraft (or formation) will track to the Initial Point, a point at 5nm downwind of the runway in use displaced to the dead side, and track inbound at high speed (typically 350knots).

Traffic permitting, Initial and Pitch procedures may be conducted at military, joint user, controlled and non controlled aerodromes. At controlled aerodromes, pilots must comply with ATC circuit entry instructions unless approved for an Initial and Pitch entry.

When conducting this procedure, the height for fast jets is normally 1,500ft AGL and 1,000ft AGL for other aircraft. Aircraft on tactical missions can conduct the Initial and Pitch at below normal altitudes; this is referred to as the low Initial and Pitch.

At any stage once abeam the threshold of the runway in use, and safe to do so, the aircraft turns (“Pitches”) to join downwind and configures for landing.

Generally pilots conducting this maneuver will broadcast their position at the IP (Initial Point) and on the base turn.

Take Off

No more than 2 aircraft should line up on the runway side by side, unless room is available for more aircraft to be positioned next to with no less than 3 metres horizontal separation between wingtips. Aircraft taking off in formation should be of like make and model to avoid mishaps due to differential performance. Aircraft should only commence take off once a leading aircraft has left the runway and a 5 second interval has elapsed.


Aircraft are to land one at a time, unless the runway is of great enough width to support 2 aircraft landing side by side with at least 5 metre horizontal spacing. Trailing aircraft are to leave at least a 10 second interval between landing approaches as to avoid wake turbulence. An aircraft on approach to a fouled runway must conduct a go-around if the obstruction has not been cleared having reached Minimum Decision Altitude (300ft).

Chapter 4: Radio Procedures

Radio Comms

The initial call is the first radio call made to establish communications. This call generally follows the rule of 6 ‘W’s.
Who, who, what, where, what what.

  1. Who: The person you’re talking to.
  2. Who: Your callsign.
  3. What: you are. What type of aircraft you are in.
  4. Where: Where your current position is.
  5. What: Information you have and/or what you are doing.
  6. What: you want. Tell them the intentions you have, or in some cases, request permission for it.

‘Jaeger 1-4, Thunder 1-2, Hornet flight of 2, 6 miles South Waypoint 2, Anchored, Request Bogey Dope’
‘Thunder 1-2, Jaeger 1-4, Bogey BRAA Bullseye 187 for 23 at 13 thousand hot, violation of no-fly zone, proceed with caution’
‘Jaeger 1-4, Wilco’

Ideally, especially on a busy day, it’s best to prelude this call with a simple Who-who call to get the receivers attention before including additional information.

Once 2 way communication has been established, the first ‘W’ (Who) may be removed to shorten future radio calls. The ‘Where’ may also not be required if not pertinent information.

Air Traffic Control

The basics of radio communication carries over into Air Traffic Control Communication. ATC Radio communications normally consist of 3 transmissions. The Request, Instructions, and Confirmation.

Request: What you want to do Instructions: What the tower is telling you to do Confirmation: Acknowledgement that you’ve understood the instruction.

‘Senaki Center, Thunder 1-2, Hornet flight of 2, request taxi to the active’
‘Thunder 1-2, taxi November, Alpha, Hold Short Runway 09.’
‘Thunder 1-2, taxing Runway 09 via November and Alpha’

Note that air traffic controllers may contact a pilot with instructions without an initial request.

NATO Brevity

NATO brevity codewords are a series of words commonly used in radio operations to aid in communications and minimize confusion. Reference this list for BREVITY calls. FIXME

Section WIP - might be deprecated FIXME

Night VFR

Chapter 5: Formation Flying

Formation flying, two or more aircraft traveling and maneuvering together in a disciplined, synchronized, predetermined manner. In a tight formation, such as is typically seen at an air show, aircraft may fly less than three feet (one metre) apart.

Although tight formations are spectacular, close formation flying into combat will often lead to the demise of your aircraft, person, and/or flight. Combat formations are much more loose and fluid to facilitate tactics and mutual support when deploying weapons against an opponent.

The wingman

Within each flight groups of two are established.
The role of the wingman is to provide support to their lead aircraft, who in turn, supports them.

Formation types


Route formation is a simple travelling formation with reasonably loose spacing. The formation is effective for travelling distances as it is easy for all pilots in the formation to maintain visual contact with each other, combined with the loose spacing which helps reduce pilot fatigue. The formation also has some use as a basic tactical formation as the wingman can provide support for the lead, although the support is not mutual.

Parade / Fingertip

Parade formation is structurally similar to route formation although the spacing is dramatically reduced. Useful for cross country navigation into the AO, and for entering airfield/carrier traffic patterns. However, is tactically not advised in combat due to the close proximity of the aircraft.

Battle Spread

Battle Spread is a flight line abreast formation. Useful for providing mutual support in combat as it allows for sufficient space to turn and cover a wingman, pincer tactics, and long range multiple target BVR fights as all aircraft can target and coordinate attacks on bandits.


Wall formation is structurally similar to the battle spread formation but with vertical separation. Useful for allowing aircraft to search using sensors at different altitudes. Can also be used to allow for a section of the flight to provide top cover for the other aircraft. Formation also provides a slight psychological advantage as it can make your force appear greater in numbers. Useful if you have a sensor and weapon range advantage against your opponents.

Fluid Two / Loose Duce

Loose Duce or Fluid Two is a simple 2-ship line abreast formation. Useful for providing mutual support in a fight as it allows for sufficient space to turn and cover a wingman, pincer tactics, and long range multiple target BVR fights as they can both target and coordinate attacks on bandits.


Trail formation is a nose to tail line formation. Useful for masking the number of aircraft within a flight when the radar is painting you from hot co-alt aspect. Can also be used effectively by strike aircraft to coordinate a precision air-to-ground ordinance delivery whilst minimising time in the area of operations only at sufficiently high altitude (outside ordinance fragmentation zone).


Ladder formation is structurally similar to trail formation but with vertical separation. Can be useful for multiple aircraft to search using sensors at different altitudes.

Echelon (left/right)

Echelon formation is a diagonal line abreast formation. More commonly used as a parade formation than an effective combat formation due to the inability of trailing aircraft to reliably cover their wingman. Can be useful for aircraft lining up during tanker procedures. It will be called either Echelon Left or Echelon Right with the aircraft forming up on the respective side.

Threat avoidance and countermeasures

Section WIP - might be deprecated FIXME

Sensors Passive and active
Use of countermeasures
Defensive maneuvering and tactics

Chapter 6: Air to Air engagement and tactics

Air to Air Qualification

1. Basic Flying

Lead-Wingman relationship
Understand the role of the wingman. Know the different types of formations, their uses and how to act as part of one.

Radio Comms Etiquette
Understand basic Brevity calls and know how to behave on the radio. Without this qual you will not be able to function properly during missions.

2. WVR

Basic Energy Management
Demonstrate an understanding of how energy affects a fight and how to manage it effectively.

Be familiar with the maneuvers outlined in this document FIXME , when and why they are effective and how to perform them to gain the advantage.
Demonstrate proficiency in Situational Awareness.

3. BVR

Missile Evasion
Understand the kinematics of Missile Evasion, both in the defensive and offensive scenario.

Group BVR fighting
Dynamics of fighting at a distance, as a group of up to 4.

4. Refinement

Package Protection
Know how to behave as part of a larger ensemble of fighters, bombers, and attackers.

Lead a flight of up to 4 fighters into battle, and hopefully out the other end!

Air to Air Training Materials


Chapter 7: Air to Ground Engagement and Tactics

Category D

Dumb Weapons Employment
Able to deploy and land unguided weapons such as cannons, unguided bombs and rockets on both stationary and moving targets.

Countermeasures Release
Demonstrate ability to release both types of countermeasures appropriately and effectively.

Simple Brevity Calls
Able to communicate basic brevity properly. (In calls, Weapon Release Call)

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
Able to conduct ISR (Standardised format of reporting)

Category C

Simple Attack formation(s)
Able to maintain (at least loosely) attack formation(s) with flight lead.
Able to perform a secondary task as part of a flight element.

Guided Weapons Employment
Able to effectively use and hit both moving and stationary targets with guided ammunition such as gbu12s.

Defensive Maneuvers & Tactics
Shows knowledge of different types of anti-air weaponry.
Showcase ability to take appropriate countermeasures to avoid threats.

Deep Air Support (DAS)/ Air Interdiction
Show familiarity to procedures and purpose of DAS.

Category B

Close Air Support
Knowledge of 9-lines and ability to execute CAS with reasonable accuracy.

Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD)
Ability to carry out SEAD.

Flight Lead
Able to coordinate the Air to Ground Flight movements on the battlefield and maintain formation lead.

Category A

(At Attack School's administrative approval) Forward Air Controller (Airborne)
Familiar with how to coordinate CAS on the battlefield from the air.

JTAC (Optional)
Able to request and coordinate CAS on the battlefield by taking on the role of a ground unit. [Requires the DCS Combined Arms DLC]

Air to Ground Training Materials


Chapter 8: Carrier Operations

Category D

Safe Case-I Launch Procedures
Demonstrates an ability to conduct safe Case-I launch procedures, including clear off turns.

Ability to fly in a variety of formations during transit.

Simple Brevity Calls
Able to communicate basic brevity properly. (In calls, Weapon Release Call)

TACAN navigation to the Carrier
Able to navigate to the carrier using the Tacan navigation system.

Safe Case-I Recovery
Demonstrates an ability to land safely on the carrier with a minimum no grade in Case-I condition.

Category C

Safe Case-II Launch Procedures
Demonstrates an ability to conduct safe Case-II launch procedures.

Ground Strike
Able to effectively strike a ground target having taken off from the carrier using dumb weapons.

Air Interception
Able to effectively intercept an aerial threat having taken off from the carrier.

Safe Case-II Recovery
Demonstrates an ability to land safely on the carrier with a minimum no grade in Case II conditions.

Category B

Safe Case-III Launch Procedures
Demonstrates an ability to conduct safe Case-III launch procedures.

Able to effectively conduct anti-ship operations having taken off from the carrier.

Aerial Refueling
Demonstrates an ability to conduct safe aerial refueling procedures.

Safe Case-III Recovery
Demonstrates an ability to land safely on the carrier with a minimum no grade in Case-III conditions.

Category A

Safe Case-I-III launch
Demonstrates an ability to conduct safe and correct launch procedures.

Safe Case-I-III recovery
Demonstrates an ability to land safely on the carrier using correct recovery procedures, with a minimum fair grade.
Can demonstrate a ‘shit hot break’


Carrier Features

Arresting Gear

The arresting gear allows aircraft to land in much smaller spaces. A number of wires (typically 4) are strung across the landing deck. The aircraft catches one of these arresting wires with the use of the hook built into the airframe, after which the aircraft slows rapidly.


The IFLOLS (Improved Fresnel Optical Landing System) is a system used on carriers to guide aircraft into the correct landing approach.

  1. Ladder / Meatball: On this vertical bar with yellow/red lights, the orange ball (‘meatball’) will move up and down according to aircraft position. If the ball is too low, the aircraft is too low. If the ball is too high, the aircraft is too high. The goal is to line it up with the datum lights (2) for optimal glideslope. Should the ball fall into the red lights, the aircraft is dangerously low and will be waved off (stop) the landing attempt.
  2. Datum Lights: This horizontal green bar of lights indicates the ideal line up. The goal is to have the orange ball (‘meatball’) line up with the datum lights for ideal glideslope.
  3. Cut lights: On early approach the cut lights illuminate 2-3 seconds to indicate ‘proceed with landing’. Any subsequent illumination means ‘add power’, according to the length of illumination of lights.
  4. Wave off lights: Should the landing fall outside safe parameters (for example, the aircraft is very low) the LSO will call ‘Wave Off’. These lights will illuminate, meaning the aircraft has to immediately terminate the landing attempt and go around.
  5. Emergency Wave off Lights: Functionally identical to normal Wave off lights (4), but for pilots of greater cranial density.
Deck Layout

All (modern) aircraft carriers have more or less the same layout. The above diagram is of the USS Nimitz class carriers, but the location names still apply to other carriers (such as the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov). The most critical locations on an aircraft carrier are the catapults or ramp (marked in green and numbered), and the landing deck (between the red stripes, with yellow centreline). These are for launching and recovering aircraft respectively, so much like a runway, do not block them. Typical recovery or departure intervals are approximately 20 to 30 seconds, so cross the catapults and landing deck quickly if you have to, and be wary of other aircraft.

Maneuvering on the flight deck

All turns should be made at idle power.
Wings should remain folded or in oversweep until in position for the catapult, or in line behind the Jet Blast Deflector, and wingspan is clear.
At night, all lights should remain off until ready for catapult launch.

Meteorological Standards

Carrier operations are ranked into three different classes depending on weather and visibility conditions:

Case-I VFR (Visual Flight Rules) conditions with good weather and visibility.

Case-II Reduced visibility conditions, such that the flight may encounter instrument conditions after launch or prior to recovery, but visual conditions of at least 1,000ft ceiling and 5nm.

Case-III IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) with poor weather and visibility or at night.

Launch Procedures



Ski Jump

Launching via Ski-Jump is done by lining the aircraft up to go off the ramp, advancing the throttles to full thrust FIXME, and launching by running up and over it. Sometimes removable wheel chocks are used to hold the aircraft in place whilst the aircraft runs up to full power.

Procedures used after launch are based on meteorological and environmental conditions. Primary responsibility for adherence to the departure rests with the pilot; however, advisory control is given by the ship's departure control radar operators, including when dictated by weather conditions.


Catapult hook up is accomplished by placing the aircraft launch bar, which is attached to the front of the aircraft's nose landing gear, into the catapult shuttle (which is attached to the catapult gear under the flight deck). In final preparation for launch, a series of events happen in rapid succession, indicated by hand/light signals:

  • The catapult is put into tension whereby all the slack is taken out of the system with hydraulic pressure on the rear of the shuttle.
  • The pilot is then signaled to advance the throttles to full (or “military”) power, and he takes his feet off the brakes.
  • The pilot checks engine instruments and “wipes out” (moves) all the control surfaces.
  • The pilot indicates that he is satisfied that his aircraft is ready for flight by saluting the catapult officer. At night, he turns on the aircraft's exterior lights to indicate he is ready.
  • The catapult officer makes a final check of catapult settings, wind, etc. and gives the signal to launch.
  • The catapult operator then pushes a button to fire the catapult.

Once the catapult fires, the shuttle moves rapidly forward, dragging the aircraft by the launch bar. The aircraft accelerates from zero (relative to the carrier deck) to about 150 knots in about 2 seconds. Typically wind (natural or ship motion generated) is blowing over the flight deck, giving the aircraft additional lift.

Case-I Launch

In Case-I launches, immediately after becoming airborne, aircraft raise their landing gear and perform “clearing turns” to the right off the bow and to the left off the waist catapults. This roughly 10° check turn is made to increase separation of (nearly) simultaneously launched aircraft from the waist/bow catapults. After the clearing turn, aircraft proceed straight ahead paralleling the ship's course at 500 feet until 7 nautical miles. Aircraft are then cleared to climb unrestricted in visual conditions.

Case-II Launch

In Case-II launches, after a clearing turn, aircraft proceed straight ahead at 500 feet, paralleling the ship's course. At 7 nautical miles, aircraft turn to intercept a 10-nautical-mile arc about the ship, maintaining visual conditions until established outbound on their assigned departure radial, at which time they are free to climb through the weather. The 500-foot restriction is lifted after 7 nmi if the climb can be continued in visual conditions.

Case-III Launch

In Case-III launches, a minimum launch interval of 30 seconds is used between aircraft, which climb straight ahead. At 7 nautical miles, they turn to fly the 10-nmi arc until intercepting their assigned departure radial.

Aircraft are often launched from the carrier in a somewhat random order based on their deck positioning prior to launch. Therefore, aircraft working together on the same mission must rendezvous airborne. This is accomplished at a predetermined location, usually at the in-flight refueling tanker, overhead the carrier, or at an en route location.

Recovery Procedures

All aircraft within the carrier's radar coverage (typically several hundred miles) are tracked and monitored. As aircraft enter the carrier control area, a 50-nautical-mile radius around the carrier, they are given more scrutiny. As with departures, the type of recovery is based on the meteorological conditions.

Case-I Recovery

The Stack

Case-I is for aircraft awaiting recovery in the port holding pattern known as ‘the stack’. The stack is a left-hand circle tangent to the ship's course with the ship in the 3-o'clock position, and a maximum diameter of 5 nautical miles. Aircraft typically hold in close formations of two or more and are stacked at various altitudes based on their type/flight. Minimum holding altitude is 2,000 feet, with a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical separation between holding altitudes. Pilots arrange themselves to establish proper separation for landing. As the landing area becomes clear, the lowest aircraft in holding descend and depart the stack in final preparation for landing. Higher aircraft descend in the stack to altitudes vacated by lower holding aircraft.

The Case-I Recovery Pattern

The Case-I Recovery Pattern is structurally similar to the airfield ‘initial and pitch’, however with the added complexity of having to land on a carrier.

The final descent from the bottom of the stack is planned so as to arrive at the “initial” which is 3 nautical miles astern the ship at 800 feet, paralleling the ship's course.
The aircraft are then flown over the ship and “break” into the landing pattern, ideally establishing at 50- to 60-second intervals on the aircraft in front of them.

If too many (more than six) aircraft are in the landing pattern when a flight arrives at the ship, the flight leader initiates a “spin”, climbing up slightly and executing a tight 360° turn within 3 nautical miles of the ship.

The break is a level, 180° turn made at 800 feet at 350 knots, descending to 600 feet, and slowing to the aircrafts ‘on speed’ attitude when established downwind. Landing gear/flaps are lowered, and landing checks are completed.
When abeam (directly aligned with) the landing area on downwind, the aircraft is 180° from the ship's course and about 1.1 nautical miles to 1.3 nautical miles from the ship, a position known as “the 180”. The pilot begins his turn to final while simultaneously beginning a gentle descent.
At “the 90” the aircraft is at 450 feet, about 1.2 nautical miles from the ship, with 90° of turn to go.
The final checkpoint for the pilot is crossing the ship's wake, at which time the aircraft should be approaching final landing heading and around 370 feet. At this point, the pilot acquires the optical landing system, which is used for the terminal portion of the landing. During this time, the pilot's full attention is devoted to maintaining proper glideslope, lineup, and angle of attack until touchdown.

Line up on landing area centerline is critical because it is only 120 feet in width, and aircraft are often parked within a few feet of either side. This is accomplished visually during case I using the painted “ladder lines” on the sides of the landing area and the centerline/drop line.

  1. Diagram of the Case-I overhead recovery pattern, beginning at the 'initial'.
    1. The initial
    2. Set Radar Altimeter to 370ft
    3. Level Break
    4. Halfway into turn, configure aircraft for landing
    5. The 180. Descend to 600ft
    6. Maintain aircraft 'on speed'
    7. 600ft
    8. Prepare to turn once abeam the LSO station, at 1.3nm abeam DME.
    9. Commence turn once 'round down' visible.
    10. Maintain AOA, through 'the 90' and 500ft
    11. Enter the groove. 350ft, at 3/4 miles, on-speed and call the ball.
    12. Upon waveoff, set full power, return to BRC parallel and intercept pattern at LSO / Marshall discretion.

Case-II Recovery

Case-II approaches are used when weather conditions are such that the flight may encounter instrument conditions during the descent, but visual conditions of at least 1,000 feet ceiling and 5 nautical miles visibility exist at the ship. Positive radar control is used until the pilot is inside 10 nautical miles and reports the ship in sight.

Flight leaders follow case-III approach procedures outside 10 nautical miles. When within 10 nmi with the ship in sight, flights are shifted to tower control and proceed as in case-I.

Case-III Recovery

A case-III approach is used whenever existing weather at the ship is below case-II minima and during all night-flight operations. Case-III recoveries are made with single aircraft, with no formations except in an emergency situation.

All aircraft are assigned holding at a marshal fix, typically about 150° from the ship's base recovery course, at a unique distance and altitude. The holding pattern is a left-handed, 6-minute racetrack pattern. Each pilot adjusts his holding pattern to depart marshal precisely at the assigned time. Aircraft departing marshal normally are separated by 1 minute. Adjustments may be directed by the ship's carrier air traffic control center, if required, to ensure proper separation. To maintain proper separation of aircraft, parameters must be precisely flown. Aircraft descend at 250 knots and 4,000 feet per minute until an elevation of 5,000 feet is reached, when the descent is lessened to 2,000 feet per minute. Aircraft transition to a landing configuration (wheels/flaps down) at 10 nmi from the ship. If the stack is held more than 10° away from the final bearing (approach course to the ship), then at 12.5 nautical miles, the pilot will arc at 250 knots, and then intercept that final bearing, to proceed with the approach.

Since the landing area is angled about 10° from the axis of the ship, aircraft final approach heading (final bearing) is about 10° less than the ship's heading (base recovery course).

Aircraft on the standard approach without an arc (called the CV-1) still have to correct from the marshal radial to the final bearing, and this is done in such a case, at 20 nautical miles. As the ship moves through the water, the aircraft must make continual, minor corrections to the right to stay on the final bearing.

Aircraft pass through the 6-nautical-mile fix at 1,200 feet altitude, 150 knots, in the landing configuration and commence slowing to final approach speed. At 3 nautical miles, aircraft begin a gradual (700-foot-per-minute or 3-4°) descent until touchdown. To arrive precisely in position to complete the landing visually (at 3⁄4 nautical mile behind the ship at 400 feet), several instrument systems/procedures are used.

Once the pilot acquires visual contact with the optical landing aids, the pilot will “call the ball”. Control will then be assumed by the LSO, who issues final landing clearance with a “roger ball” call. When other systems are not available, aircraft on final approach continue their descent using distance/altitude checkpoints (e.g., 1,200 feet at 3 nautical miles, 860 feet at 2 nautical miles, 460 feet at 1 nautical mile, 360 feet at the “ball” call).

  1. Diagram of the Case-III recovery approach
    1. Marshall stack: starting at 6000ft, with increments of 1000ft for each flight
    2. Platform, passing 5000ft
    3. 10 miles DME, 600ft, commence landing descent
    4. 6 miles DME, maintain 1200ft ACLS
    5. 1.5 miles DME, 600ft, commence landing descent
    6. 1 mile DME, 400ft
    7. 3/4 mile DME, call the ball
    8. 1/2 mile DME, 200ft
    9. Wave off on final heading, climb 1200ft FIXME
    10. Turn to downwind heading, using 1% speed G-turn
    11. Maintain 1200ft and on speed AOA
    12. Turn onto final heading via 22 degree bank turn > proceed from point E

LSO Communications, Signals, & Terminology


The Greenie Board

In Delta, the Greenie Board is used to keep track of other pilots within the Naval Group. It is used to record members, qualification grades, and landing grades.

When there is an active LSO on station the Greenie Board will be used to grade landings. Your pass will be graded either, Ok, Fair, No Grade, or Cut. Ok - Worth 4pts, Your pass had minimum deviations and good corrections. Fair - Worth 3pts, Your pass had reasonable deviations with average corrections. No Grade - Worth 2pts, Bolter 2.5pts, Below average corrections but a safe pass. Cut - 1pt, Unsafe deviations close to the ramp.

Chapter 9: Aerial Refueling

todo from the old doc FIXME Daytime Refueling
Nighttime Refueling

Aerial refueling is the process of transferring aviation fuel from one aircraft (the tanker) to another (the receiver) during flight.

The procedure allows the receiving aircraft to remain airborne longer, extending its range or loiter time on station. A series of air refueling can give range limited only by crew fatigue and engineering factors such as engine oil consumption.

Because the receiver aircraft can be topped up with extra fuel in the air, air refueling can allow a takeoff with a greater payload which could be weapons, cargo, or personnel: the maximum takeoff weight is maintained by carrying less fuel and topping up once airborne. Alternatively, a shorter take-off roll can be achieved because take-off can be at a lighter weight before refueling once airborne.

Short list
  • Rendezvous with the tanker
  • Safe your aircraft, turn off radar, turn on position lights (and formation lights at night)
  • Join formation with the tanker on the left wing
  • Call in intent to refuel on radio
  • Move into pre-contact position on the 6 o'clock position of the tanker
  • Refuel
  • Once transfer is complete join formation with the tanker on the right wing.

General description

The receiving aircraft will contact the tanker via radio. The receiving aircraft will adjust course to rendezvous with the tanker. The receiving aircraft should be ‘Safe’, with radar off, and position (and formation lights at night) on.

The receiving aircraft are to join the tanker in a left echelon formation, flying bearing line, and pulling slightly forward so the tanker crew are able to make visual contact with the receiving aircraft.

The receiving aircraft should remain in the ‘Port Observation’ position until cleared for contact. The port observation position establishes order in the refueling queue, and allows the tanker crew to maintain visual contact with the receivers. The closest aircraft to the tanker in the Port Observation position is to make radio contact with the tanker once a refueling position is free.

Once cleared, the receiver can move from the Port Observation position to pre-contact in the Refuel Area. This is done by the receiver gradually slowing and descending to pass under and behind the tanker (and other receiving aircraft). The pre-contact position is behind the tanker, roughly where maximum refueling drogue/boom extension should be.

Aircraft that have received fuel can move from the Refuel Area, to the Reform Area by slowing and descending and crossing behind and under the tanker (and other receiving aircraft). Once all aircraft in a flight have joined a ‘Right Echelon’ formation in the Reform area, the flight is free to depart company with the tanker.

The probe-and-drogue system is not compatible with flying boom equipment, creating a problem for military planners where mixed forces are involved.

Probe and Drogue

The probe-and-drogue refueling method employs a flexible hose that trails from the tanker aircraft. The drogue (or para-drogue), sometimes called a basket, is a fitting resembling a shuttlecock, attached at its narrow end (like the “cork” nose of a shuttlecock) with a valve to a flexible hose. The drogue stabilizes the hose in flight and provides a funnel to aid insertion of the receiver aircraft probe into the hose. The hose connects to a Hose Drum Unit (HDU). When not in use, the hose/drogue is reeled completely into the HDU. The receiver has a probe, which is a rigid, protruding or pivoted retractable arm placed on the aircraft's nose or fuselage to make the connection.

The optimal approach is from behind and below (not level with) the drogue. Because the drogue is relatively light (typically soft canvas webbing) and subject to aerodynamic forces, it can be pushed around by the bow wave of approaching aircraft, exacerbating engagement even in smooth air. After initial contact, the hose and drogue is pushed forward by the receiver a certain distance (typically, a few feet), and the hose is reeled slowly back onto its drum in the HDU. Fuel flow is typically indicated by illumination of a green light near the HDU. If the hose is pushed in too far or not far enough, a cutoff switch will inhibit fuel flow, which is typically accompanied by an amber light. Disengagement is commanded by the tanker pilot with a red light.

Flying Boom

The flying boom is a rigid, telescoping tube with movable flight control surfaces that a boom operator on the tanker aircraft extends and inserts into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft. All boom-equipped tankers have a single boom, and can refuel one aircraft at a time with this mechanism. The receiver moves to a position behind the tanker, within safe limits of travel for the boom, aided by the PDL (Pilot Director Lights) or directions radioed by the boom operator. Once in position, the operator extends the boom to make contact with the receiver aircraft. Once in contact, fuel is pumped through the boom into the receiver aircraft.

While in contact, the receiver pilot must continue to fly within the “air refueling envelope,” the area in which contact with the boom is safe. Moving outside of this envelope can damage the boom or lead to mid-air collision. If the receiving aircraft approaches the outer limits of the envelope, the boom operator will command the receiver pilot to correct his position and disconnect the boom if necessary.

Chapter 10: Instruction Technique

Principles of Instruction

In order to create an environment that promotes participation and learning, an instructor follows a set of guidelines or principles to plan and instruct a lesson. The following are the fundamental guidelines known as the principles of instruction:

Interest: Students are more receptive to learning when they are curious and have an emotional connection to a topic. The instructor must arouse, create and maintain the interest of the students. Without interest, the students will be less inclined to listen and will not learn.

Comprehension: Comprehension or understanding relates to the students ability to understand the material taught. The students’ readiness to learn new material is influenced by what has previously been taught; new content should not exceed the knowledge level of the students. If the students do not understand, they are unable to learn.

Emphasis: During a period of instruction, there will be some information that may be of particular importance. The instructor can emphasize this important information through the use of voice control, training aids and activities.

Participation: Students are more likely to retain information if they are both mentally and physically involved in learning. The instructor should conduct activities that contain action, activity and excitement. students learn by doing.

Accomplishment: The lesson must impart a sense of accomplishment to each student. The students should leave the class with the satisfaction that they were able to accomplish something in the lesson.

Confirmation: Confirmation is an essential part of learning and instructing. It gives both the instructor and the student the opportunity to see how well the information is understood.

Planning a Lesson

Planning a lesson in an important part of conducting an effective and efficient lesson. Having a written lesson plan can be used as a tool that the instructor can refer to and use as a guide. Things to be considered while planning a lesson:

What are you teaching? It may sound simple, but having a focus on your lesson is important as to prevent your lesson from wandering. It is also important to consider if you are knowledgeable enough in a subject yourself to teach it to others.

What is your planned lesson duration? Time is valuable, and people have limited amounts of it. Anticipate the length of your lesson as to make sure it's not too long or too short.

Will you need any training aids? Training aids are an invaluable asset to proper instruction. But, many require forward planning in order to obtain.

What are you aims and objectives? Explaining why you’re teaching something is a simple way of gaining interest in the subject.

How are you going to introduce your lesson? Beginning a lesson is sometimes difficult as you have to gain the students interest in the subject and trust in your knowledge. Starting with a statement or question is often effective.

What are you main teaching points? What are the key points that you want your students to take note of, learn, and remember?

Any Questions? Asking your students questions is a simple way to make sure that your students are engaged and involved with your subject matter. The time should be also taken to study your lesson and anticipate any questions. Modify your lesson so that the questions you’ve anticipated are answered.

Can you summarize your lesson? Can you condense the basis of all of your information into a short series of sentences? If not, consider your teaching points, subject, and overall focus of your lesson. Summarizing is important at the end of a lesson to remind your students of earlier points that may have been forgotten due to the influx of new information from more recent points.

How are you going to end your lesson? Planning how to conclude a lesson is important as to prevent it from running on forever.

Linked here is a lesson plan template that is free to use.

Conducting a Briefing

Conducting an in-depth briefing can be critical to mission success. If the pilots have a good understanding, they are able to execute their mission tasks to the best of their ability. Many of the skills involved in teaching lessons are transferable to the creating and conducting of exercise or operational briefings.


The SMEAC format is an effective format for structuring briefings and ensuring as much mission critical information is given to your team as possible. How to structure, and what to include in a SMEAC briefing is as below:

I. Situation
  1. Context to mission
    1. Summary of the series of events leading to the necessity of your mission.
  2. Enemy Forces
    1. Enemy's Composition, Disposition, Strength
    2. Enemy's Capabilities & Limitations:(DRAW-DG) Defend, Reinforce, Attack, Withdraw, Delay, Gas
    3. Enemy's Most Likely Course Of Action (EMLCOA)
    4. Enemy's Most Dangerous Course of Action
  3. Friendly Forces
    1. Higher's Mission & Intent
    2. Adjacent Units
    3. North/South/East/West
    4. Same Echelon
    5. Supporting
  4. Attachments/Detachment
  5. Civil/Terrain considerations
II. Mission
  1. Who, What (Tactical Task), Where, When, and Why?
III. Execution
  1. Commander's Intent
    1. Center of Gravity and momentum of battle
    2. Critical Vulnerability
    3. Exploitation Plan
    4. Desired Endstate
  2. Concept of the Operations
    1. Scheme of Maneuver
    2. Fire Support Plan
  3. Tasks
  4. Coordinating Instructions
IV. Administration/Logistics
  1. Administration - Rules of Engagement, Flight Responsibilities
  2. Logistics - Loadouts, Supply and Resupply, Fuel (Tankers)
V. Command/Signal
  1. Signal
    1. Primary
    2. Alternate
    3. Contingency
    4. Emergency (Typically 121.500AM)
  2. Command
    1. Location of Key Leaders
    2. Succession of Command