Glossary

Ace

A term bestowed on aircrew who have downed five or more enemy aircraft in A/A combat.

AGR

Active Guard Reserve. A full-time air national guard reservist. Similar to FTS.

AIC

Air Intercept Controller. A ground-, sea-, or air-based radar operator who controls the A/A intercepts of combat aircraft.

Air Boss

1) The officer in charge of all aircraft carrier operations involving aircraft on the flight deck and airborne in the immediate vicinity of the carrier.

2) Nickname for the Vice Admiral serving as Commander, Naval Air Forces who is responsible for the manning, training, and equipping of all aircraft, personnel, and the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers.

Aircrew

Generic term for any aircraft crew member, whether at the flight controls or not.

ASCAN

Astronaut Candidate. Someone who is new to the astronaut corps and undergoing training.

CAG

An obsolete but more-easily spoken term for CVW. Also, informal title for the CVW Commander, typically a US Navy Captain (O-6).

Callsign

A nickname aircrew use to address one another on the ground and in-flight, in lieu of using real names and ranks.

CFACC

Combined (alternatively, Coalition) Forces Air Component Commander. A military commander tasked to plan, direct, and control joint air operations within a specific theater of operations. See also, JFACC.

CICO

Combat Information Center Officer. One of the five crew members aboard an E-2 Hawkeye and the senior of the three NFOs manning the radar and communications equipment.

CNO 

Chief of Naval Operations. The highest-ranking officer in the US Navy who reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy for the command, utilization of resources, and operating efficiency of the operating forces of the Navy.

CO

Commanding Officer. aka “Skipper”. The senior-ranking officer and individual in charge of a particular unit, such as a squadron.

ECMO

Electronic Countermeasures Officer. An NFO who crews the backseat of an EA-18G Growler.

FAC

Forward Air Controller. A pilot serving alongside ground forces, acting as a liaison with combat support aircraft.

FAIP

First Assignment Instructor Pilot (aka SERGRAD). An instructor pilot who has not yet served in an operational squadron.

Flag Officer

A commissioned military officer who has attained the rank of general (land forces) or admiral (maritime forces), at the rank of O-7 or above.

FRS

Fleet Replacement Squadron. aka RAG. A US Navy training squadron that prepares pilots for operational service in fleet-specific aircraft.

FTS

Full Time Support. A US Navy program that allows reservists to perform in positions as full-time active duty members, supporting the Navy Reserve Force.

GCE

Ground Combat Element. A MAGTF component usually comprised of infantry and supported by armor (tanks), and artillery. May also include special units such as scouts or Force Reconnaissance, snipers and JTACs.

God

(See Fighter Pilot)

JFACC

Joint Forces Air Component Commander. A military commander tasked to plan, direct, and control joint air operations within a specific theater of operations. See also, CFACC.

Joke

(See God)

JTAC

Joint Terminal Attack Controller. A qualified service member, often an aviator, who directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other offensive air operations from a forward position.

LSO

Landing Signal Officer. A pilot who has the collateral duty of assisting in the safe and expeditious recovery of aircraft, usually aboard an aircraft carrier but also as required at airfields ashore.

Midshipman

A college student enrolled either at the US Naval Academy or in a Navy ROTC program.

NFO

Naval Flight Officer. A US Navy commissioned officer assigned to non-pilot-in-control aerial duties such as weapons control, radar intercept, or electronic countermeasures.

Nugget

A first-tour aviator.

ODO

Operations Duty Officer. A squadron aviator responsible for executing the flight schedule. Manned by an instructor at a training squadron.

OHO

Ordnance Handling Officer. A aircraft carrier-assigned officer in charge of the ship’s ordnance.

OS

Operations Specialist. A rating for enlisted US Navy personnel who specialize in providing AIC.

Paddles

Slang term for an LSO.

POTUS

President of the United States.

RAC

Replacement Aircrew. An FRS student. Subdivided into one of four categories:

  • Cat 1: initial training
    • e.g. A newly-winged pilot
  • Cat 2: conversion training
    • e.g. An F-14 converting to the F/A-18
  • Cat 3: refresher training following a long absence from flying
    • e.g. A pilot returning to duty after a non-flying tour of duty
  • Cat 4: miscellaneous
    • e.g. A current F/A-18A-D pilot undergoing initial F/A-18E/F training).

RAG

Replacement Air Group. An obsolete but sometimes-used name for the FRS.

RIO

Radar Intercept Officer. An NFO who crewed the backseat of an F-4 Phantom or F-14 Tomcat.

RO

Radar Operator. One of the five crew members aboard an E-2 Hawkeye, and typically the most junior of the three NFOs manning the radar and communications equipment.

ROTC

Reserve Officer Training Corps. An officer commissioning program that allows students to attend non-service academies (i.e. public and private universities and colleges) where students pursue a bachelor’s degree while preparing for service as a commissioned officer in the military.

RTU

Replacement Training Unit. (Air Force term.) A squadron that prepares pilots for operational service in fleet-specific aircraft.

SDO

Squadron Duty Officer. A squadron aviator who assists the ODO during execution of the flight schedule. Manned by a student at a training squadron.

SERGRAD

Selectively Retained Graduate. A flight student who completes training and immediately remains at the squadron as an instructor despite having no fleet experience.

Service Academy

A federal university that provides students an undergraduate degree and the preparation needed to serve as a commissioned officer in the US armed forces after graduation.

SFTI

Strike-Fighter Tactics Instructor. A TOPGUN graduate.

SME

Subject Matter Expert.

Squadron

An aviation organization composed of aircrew, support personnel, aircraft, and equipment.

Targeteer

A military intelligence officer who specializes in generating precise targets for ground targets and assists with weapon-to-target match determination.

TOPGUN

aka Navy Fighter Weapons School. A US Navy institution that develops and provides graduate-level strike-fighter tactics.

WSO

Weapons System Officer. An NFO who crews the backseat of an F/A-18D Hornet or F/A-18F Super Hornet.