1v1

One versus one. aka ACM, dogfighting.

5MC

A public address system used by an aircraft carrier Air Boss to communicate with personnel working on the flight deck and in various spaces on the interior of the ship.

A-LOC

Almost G-induced Loss of Consciousness. Nearly passing out due to lack of blood in the brain as a result of pulling G’s.

A/A

Air-to-air. An aerial fight between two or more aircraft.

AAA

Anti-aircraft artillery. Large-caliber guns and cannon used to shoot down aircraft. Often armed with exploding rounds.

AARGM

Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile. A follow-on improvement to the HARM.

Ace

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

ACE

Aviation Combat Element. A MAGTF component that contributes the force. Includes all aircraft (fixed- and rotary-wing), their pilots and maintenance personnel, and those units necessary for aviation command and control.

ACM

Air Combat Maneuvering. aka Dogfighting. Close-quarters A/A combat where each pilot tries to shoot down the other, preferably first.

ADIZ

Air Defense Identification Zone. Airspace over land or water in which the identification, location, and control of civil aircraft is performed in the interest of national security. This airspace may extend beyond a country’s territory to afford more time to respond to possibly hostile aircraft.

AGR

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

AGSM

Anti-G Straining Maneuver. A technique that employs muscle-tightening and quick breathing in an effort to maintain blood in the cranium when pulling Gs.

AIC

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

AIM-120 AMRAAM

Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. An active radar-guided missile capable of being provided target updates in flight and consummating intercept with its own radar seeker, allowing the firing aircraft to shoot more than one target simultaneously and turn and run from the fight once the missile takes over. When fired, “Fox-3” is called.

AIM-7 Sparrow

A short-medium range semi-active radar-homing A/A missile. When fired, “Fox-1” is called.

AIM-9 Sidewinder

An infrared-seeking short-range A/A missile. When fired, “Fox-2” is called.

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.

ALE-39 / ALE-47

Airborne countermeasures dispenser systems found on many US fighters, such as F/A-18 and F-16. The ALE-47 is an updated, more modern version.

ALSA

Air Land Sea Application. A multi-service organization established to develop tactical-level solutions of multi-service interoperability issues, such as communications brevity.

AOA

Angle of Attack. The difference, measured in degrees, between the flight path of an aircraft and that aircraft’s longitudinal axis (i.e. where the nose is pointing).

AOR

Area of Responsibility. A geographic region of the world where related military activities occur.

APKWS

Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System. Laser-guided 2.75-inch forward-firing aerial rockets.

ASCAN

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

ASMOD

ASW Module. A combat center on a naval warship where ASW operations are coordinated and controlled.

ASW

Anti-submarine Warfare. The process of detecting, tracking, and in some cases–destroying, enemy submarines.

ATO

Air Tasking Order. A document that disseminates schedules, targets, and tasking for air forces with a joint operational environment.

Ball

(See Meatball)

Bandit

A positively identified enemy aircraft. Does not imply authority to engage.

BARCAP

Barrier CAP. A defensive A/A mission designed to protect an asset, such as an aircraft carrier, from enemy aircraft.

BATR

Bullets at Target Range. A HUD cue depicting where previously-fired bullets are in space when they reach the range of the radar-locked target.  Used to assess guns employment effectiveness in training.

BFM

Basic Fighter Maneuvers. Aerial maneuvers employed during ACM.

BLU

Bomb Live Unit. A series of warheads that contain improved explosive fill compared to the Mk 80 series.  Variants include the 500-pound BLU-111; low-collateral damage 500-pound BLU-126/B; 1,000-pound BLU-110 (1,000); and hard target-penetrating, 2,000-pound BLU-109.

Bogey

An air contact whose identity (friendly, enemy, or neutral) is unknown.

BOQ

Bachelor Officer Quarters. On-base lodging for officer service members who do not have, or when away from, family members.

Bow

The front or forward-most portion of a vessel. Opposite of Stern.

Box

A formation of four aircraft where two aircraft abeam each other are followed by two other aircraft abeam each other. When viewed from above or below the four aircraft appear to be in the corners of a quadrilateral.

BRA(A)

Bearing Range Altitude (Aspect). The format of an air intercept communication call when referenced to the fighter position.

Bridge

The room on a ship from which it is steered and controlled.

Burble

The increased and, subsequently, decreased lift an aircraft experiences as it approaches an aircraft carrier for landing as a result of the relative wind as it flows around and off the ship.

BVR

Beyond Visual Range. A/A engagements that take place farther than the human eye can see.

C4I

Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence. The exercise of authority and direction by a designated commander over assigned forces in the accomplishment of a mission.

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.

CAP

Combat Air Patrol. A general name for A/A missions.

CAS

Close Air Support. Aerial attack that occurs in close proximity to, and with the detailed coordination of, friendly ground forces.

CATM

Captive Air Training Missile. An A/A missile used for training that lacks many, or all, of the components found on live missiles.

CDP

Cross Deck Penant. aka arresting gear wire.  An approximately 1.5-inch steel cable strung across the landing area of an aircraft carrier that is engaged by a landing aircraft’s tailhook.

CE

Command Element. The headquarters element of a MAGTF that directs the other elements.

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.

CG

Center of Gravity. The balancing point of an object.

Chaff

A radar countermeasure consisting of numerous small, thin dipoles of aluminum-coated fiberglass.

CHOP

CHange of OPerational Control. The act of military units transferring assignments from one commander to another.

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.

Combat Spread

An aerial formation where two aircraft fly 1 to 1.5 miles abeam each other, headed in the same direction, and from level up to several thousand feet off each other’s altitude.

Contact

Engagement of enemy forces.

CRM

Crew Resource Management. A management system which makes optimum use of all available human factor and other resources to promote safety and enhance the efficiency of flight operations.

CVW

Carrier Air Wing. A US Navy aviation organization composed of approximately eight independent squadrons that join as one team when deployed aboard an aircraft carrier.

DACT

Dissimilar Air Combat Training. A/A training between differing aircraft, such as F-15s and F/A-18s.

DCS

1) Decompression Sickness. A condition arising from dissolved gases coming out of solution into bubbles inside the body due to depressurization.

2) Digital Combat Simulator. A digital battlefield game offering authentic and realistic simulation of military aircraft, tanks, ground vehicles and ships.

DFC

Distinguished Flying Cross. The fourth highest service medal by precedence awarded to service members who distinguishes themselves in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

Division

aka Four-ship. A coordinated flight of four aircraft operating in close proximity to one another.

E-M Diagram

Energy-Maneuverability Diagram. An aircraft performance comparison method developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd that incorporates energy, thrust, weight, aerodynamic drag, wing area, flight characteristics and more.

Echelon

A formation of two or more aircraft all lined out to one side and slightly behind the preceding aircraft.

ECMO

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

EID

Electronic Identification. The use of onboard systems to determine the identity of another aircraft.

Ejection Seat

A device designed to propel an aircrew occupant safely out of and away from a distressed aircraft.

EMF

Electromotive Force. The electrical intensity or pressure developed by a source of electrical energy such as a battery or generator.

EP

Emergency Procedure. A scripted procedure to follow, oftentimes from memory, in the event of an aircraft malfunction or emergency.

EVA

Extravehicular Activity. A space walk.

Expendables

A generic term for inflight-deployable countermeasures such as chaff, flares, and jammer decoys. Also known as “items.”

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.

Faraday Cage

An enclosure designed to block electromagnetic fields.

FCLP

Field Carrier Landing Practice. A flight where the purpose is to perform repeated aircraft carrier-style landings ashore in preparation for later carrier qualifying afloat.

FEBO

Fighter Even, Bogey Odd. An obsolete deconfliction strategy intended to prevent mid-air collisions.  Requires fighters to arrive at the merge on even, whole thousand altitudes (e.g. 22,000 ft, 30,000 ft, etc.) and the adversaries at odd (e.g. 25,000 ft).

Fence Checks

The act of preparing an aircraft for possible combat prior to entering into a designated area (fence in) and then ensuring the aircraft is safely ready to RTB when egressing combat areas (fence out).

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.

Flak

See AAA.

Flare

A countermeasure deployed by aircraft to decoy infrared-seeking weapons systems and missiles.

Fox-1/2/3

A communications brevity term used when launching semi-active radar / infrared seeking / and active radar missiles, respectively.

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.

G

Gravitational Force. The pull of earth’s gravity that people and objects experience as “one G” in an unaccelerated state or “zero G” when falling.

G-LOC

G-induced Loss of Consciousness. Passing out due to lack of blood in the brain as a result of pulling G’s.

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.

GCI

Ground-Controlled Intercept. AIC provided by a ground controller.

Geedunk

Slang for either candy or other edible treats (normally sugary), or various trinkets such as stickers, t-shirts, shot glasses, etc. So named because of the gee-dunk sound a coin makes when dropping into a vending machine.

God

(See Fighter Pilot)

GPS

Global Positioning System. A constellation of satellites that afford precision location information and coordinate generation on earth.

HARM

High-speed Anti-radiation Missile. A missile designed to home in on surface-to-air radar emitters, such as those affiliated with early warning detection and SAMs.

HMLA

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron. A US Marine Corps squadron comprised of AH-1 Cobra / Viper and UH-1 Huey helicopters.

Hostile

Bandit for which engagement is authorized.

HOTAS

Hands On Throttle-And-Stick.

HSI

Horizontal Situation Indicator.

IADS

Integrated Air Defense System. A system of radar, weapons, command and control nodes, and communications networks that operate together to defend a geographic area or high value asset.

IFS

Introductory Flight Screening. A civilian, FAA-certified flight school experience that exposes prospective US Navy and Marine Corps flight students to the rigors of pilot training.

INS

Inertial Navigation System. A navigation aid that uses a computer, and motion, rotation, and occasionally magnetic sensors to continuously calculate by dead reckoning the position, orientation, and velocity of a moving object without the need for external references.

ISR

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. Integrated and synchronized collection efforts designed to provide warfighters information on the surrounding battlespace.

ITAR

International Traffic in Arms Regulations. A US regulatory regime that restricts and controls the export of defense and military related technologies to safeguard national security and further US foreign policy objectives.

JASSM

Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. A low observable stand-off air-launched missile.

JBD

Jet Blast Deflector. A large shield that raises out of the flight deck of an aircraft carrier that protects other aircraft and equipment by deflecting the exhaust of an aircraft at high power settings just prior to launch.

JDAM

Joint Direct Attack Munition. A GPS-guided free-fall bomb available in the 500- / 1,000- / and 2,000-pound classes.

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.

JMEMs

Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manuals. A compilation of data and methodologies designed to allow selection of the best weapon to attack a given target based on certain constraints and damage / kill requirements.

JSOW

Joint Stand Off Weapon. A GPS-guided glide bomb.

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.

Knot(s)

Nautical mile(s) per hour.

LAMPS

Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System. A US Navy program that developed manned helicopters that assist the surface fleet with ASW.

LAR

Launch Acceptability Region. A visual depiction of the intercept capability of a selected A/A missile based on both the ownship and target’s current altitude, airspeed, heading, and maneuvering.

LCAC

Landing Craft, Air Cushion. An amphibious vehicle used to transport, ship-to-shore and across the beach, personnel, weapons, equipment, and cargo of the assault elements of the MAGTF.

LCE

Logistics Combat Element. A MAGTF component comprised of all support units such as communications, combat engineers, motor transport, medical, supply units, and certain specialized groups such as air delivery and landing support teams.

LGB

Laser-guided Bomb. An aerial free-fall weapon that homes on laser energy reflected off a designated target.

LGTR

Laser-guided Training Round. A low-cost, inert laser-guided training munition that allows aircrew to simulate employing LGBs.

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.

MAGIC CARPET

Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies (*phew!*). A computer-software PLM integration system that works with an aircraft’s digital flight control system to reduce pilot workload and improve safety during aircraft carrier landings.

MAGTF

Marine Air Ground Task Force. A principal United States Marine Corps organization that combines air-, land-, and sea-borne forces to conduct a wide array of military operations and humanitarian responses anywhere in the world. Comprised of a CE, ACE, GCE, and LCE. May take the form of a MEB, MEF, or MEU.

MAW

Marine Air Wing. A USMC organization that provides combat ready expeditionary aviation forces capable of short notice world wide deployment to MAGTF, fleet, and unified commanders.

Meatball

Slang term for the optical landing system employed to provide glideslope information to pilots landing on an aircraft carrier.

MEB

Marine Expeditionary Brigade. A MAGTF constructed around a reinforced infantry regiment, a composite Marine aircraft group, and a brigade service support group. Task-organized to meet the requirements of a specific situation. It can function alone, as part of a joint task force, or as the lead echelon of a MEF.

MEDEVAC

Medical Evacuation. The immediate removal of wounded service members from the battlefield.

MEF

Marine Expeditionary Force. A MAGTF comprised of a MEF Headquarters Group, Marine Division, MAW, and Marine Logistics Group.

Merge

The point in time and space where opposing aircraft meet in an A/A engagement, generally heading in opposite directions.

MEU

Marine Expeditionary Unit. The smallest type of MAGTF with customizable composition based on the task at hand. Additional artillery, armor, or air units can be attached, including squadrons of MV-22B Osprey and AV-8B Harriers.

MIDS

Multifunctional Information Distribution System. An advanced C4I system incorporating high-capacity, jam-resistant, digital communication links for exchange of near real-time tactical information, including both data and voice, among air, ground, and sea elements.

Midshipman

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

MIGCAP

An offensive A/A mission flown in an effort to stir up and shoot down enemy aircraft.

MOS

Military Occupational Specialty. A code that identifies a particular military job or area of expertise.

NATOPS

Naval Aviation and Training Operations Procedures Standardization (*phew*). Flight and operating instructions and procedures applicable to the operation of all US naval aircraft and related aviation activities.

Nautical Mile

A unit of measure based on the circumference of the earth, equal to one minute of latitude. Equivalent to approx. 6,072 feet or 115% of a statute mile.

NAVAIR

Naval Air Systems Command. A US Navy organization whose mission is to provide full life-cycle support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by Sailors and Marines. This support includes research, design, development and systems engineering; acquisition; test and evaluation; training facilities and equipment; repair and modification; and in-service engineering and logistics support.

NAWDC

Naval Aviation Warfare Development Center. The Fallon, Nevada-based center of excellence for naval aviation training and tactics development. Parent command to TOPGUN.

NEO

Noncombatant Evacuation Operation. The ordered (mandatory) or authorized (voluntary) departure of civilian noncombatants and nonessential military personnel from danger in an overseas country to a designated safe haven.

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.

NORAD

North American Aerospace Defense Command. A combined command between the US and Canada that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and protection of North America.

Nugget

A first-tour aviator.

OCS

Officer Candidate School. A program for college graduates who did not attend a service academy or participate in ROTC. Successful program completion results in commissioning as a military officer.

ODO

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

OLF

Outlying Field. An airfield used by military aircraft for landing practice.

OS

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

Paddles

Slang term for an LSO.

Pd

Probability of destruction. A derived probability that a target will receive the desired level of damage or destruction based on a variety of factors such as weapon selection and delivery type.

PLAT

Pilot Landing Aid Television. A system of low-light TV cameras and displays positioned as a tool for, and to record, aircraft carrier landings and flight deck operations.

PLM

Precision Landing Modes. (See MAGIC CARPET)

POL

Petroleum Oil Lubricants. A class of supplies consisting of various fuel, hydraulic, and lubrication fluids.

Port

The left side of an aircraft or vessel when facing the front of the aircraft or vessel. Opposite of Starboard.

POTS

Plain Old Telephone System. A ship-based communication system that facilitates telephone-type calls via satellite from ship to shore. Notorious for the delay between spoken and heard transmissions, leading to awkward conversations.

PQS

Personnel Qualification Standard. A publication that guides the training of a Navy sailor in the attainment of increased qualifications and experience.

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.

RCS

Radar Cross Section. The measure of a target’s ability to reflect radar signals in the direction of the radar receiver.

Ready Room

A common area where squadron aircrew congregate, socialize, and brief & debrief missions.

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.

RTB

Return to Base. The act of returning to the place of origin or other friendly place of refuge, following a mission.

RTU

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

RWR

Radar Warning Receiver. Passive sensors used to detect the presence of off board radar emitters.

SA

Situational Awareness. The perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time and space.

SAM

Surface-to-air Missile. Homing or guided missiles designed to shootdow aircraft.

SAMBUSH

SAM Ambush. A tactic where aircraft attempt to draw opposing aircraft into a particular geographic area so that they can be engaged by SAMs.

SAR

Search and Rescue. The process of locating and recovering distressed personnel.

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.

Section

aka Two-ship. A coordinated flight of two aircraft operating in close proximity to one another.

SERE

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. A military program designed to prepare military and other personnel to cope when in enemy territory.

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.

SFARP

Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program. A unit-level training evolution designed to hone aerial combat skills as an initial step in preparation for follow-on workups for deployment. Administered by a Type Wing Weapons School.

SFTI

Strike-Fighter Tactics Instructor. A TOPGUN graduate.

SLAM ER

Stand-off Land Attack Missile Expanded Response. A GPS-guided, cruise missile-like weapon that beams television imagery back to the launching or supporting aircraft in order for real time ‘pilot-in-the-loop’ aim point updates and success determination.

SME

Subject Matter Expert.

Squadron

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

Starboard

The right side of an aircraft or vessel when facing the front of the aircraft or vessel. Opposite of Port.

Stern

The back or aft-most portion of a vessel. Opposite of Bow.

Sundown

The deliberate act of retiring an aircraft from active service.

SWOS

Surface Warfare Officer School. The academic institution where naval officers learn how to control and employ warships.

TALD

Tactical Air-Launched Decoy. An unmanned air-launched radar decoy used to stimulate enemy air defense systems by presenting a realistic threat signature of actual manned aircraft, in radar cross section and flight characteristics

TAR

Training and Administration of the Reserve. A predecessor program to FTS.

Targeteer

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

Top Gun 

A 1986 American romantic military action drama motion picture.

TOPGUN

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

UNREP

Underway Replenishment. The act of transfering supplies, fuel, and/or ammunition between two or more ships while underway at sea by means of direct connection between ships.

V/STOL

Vertical / Short Takeoff and Landing. A characteristic of aircraft that can takeoff and land either vertically or in distances much shorter than tradtional fixed-wing aircraft.

VERTREP

Vertical Replenishment. The act of transfering supplies or ammunition between ships at sea by use of vertical-flight-capable aircraft, such as helicopters.

Vestibular System

aka inner ear. An anatomical apparatus involved in maintaining balance and spatial orientation.

VID

Visual Identification. A tactic employed to determine the identity of another aircraft by passing by closely and observing visually.

VR

Virtual Reality. An interactive computer-generated experience that takes place within a simulated environment.

Wall

A formation of four aircraft abeam each other in a relatively-straight line, albeit possibly at different altitudes.

WSO

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

WVR

Within Visual Range. A/A engagements that take place within a distance that the human eye can see.

Ziplip

A no radio communications event or activity, such as landing on an aircraft carrier during daytime, favorable weather conditions.