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Anti-Aircraft Weapons used to down aircraft.
AAA: Anti-Aircraft Artillery. Also "Tripple-A" or
"flak;" heavy version of the AA gun, often mounted on an armored
AAM: Air-to-Air Missile.
AB: AfterBurner capability; Airbase.
ACM: Air Combat Maneuvering.
AGL: Above Ground Level. Measure of a plane's altitude above the terrain
it is flying over. In other words, a plane maybe be flying at 1,500 ft. ASL, but
be only 500 ft. off the ground.
AGM: Air-to-Ground Missile.
AIM: Air-Intercept Missile.
ALARM: Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missile. Missile with active infared
transmitter in nose that homes in on targets emitting heat energy.
AMRAAM: Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. Missile with active
radar transmitter in nose that tracks target, allowing "fire and
Angels: Altitude in thousands of feet. "Angels ten" indicates
10,000 feet of altitude.
AoA: Angle of Attack. Aerodynamic angle formed between the chord of an
airfoil and the direction of the relative wind.
AoT: Angle off Tail. Angle between the flight path of an attacker and its
ASE: Aircraft Survivability Equipment. An aircraft's defensive systems (RWR,
jammers, chaff, and flares).
ASL: Above Sea Level. Aircraft's altitude above sea level (in feet).
ASTOVL: Advanced Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing. X-32 fighter
ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighter. Group of fighter prototypes that employ
state-of-the-art design, materials, avionics, and weaponry to enhance combat
performance. Term comes from the original name for the F-22 program.
ATGM: Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. Missiles used against armored ground
vehicles; guided by lasers, wires or infared signals (such as Hellfire and
AWACS: Airborne Warning And Control System. Aircraft fitted with long
range radar that provide tactical and target information to air and ground
control units. Usually big, slow and extremely high priority, both to defend and
Bandit: Confirmed enemy aircraft.
Bogey: Unidentified aircraft.
BARCAP: Barrier Combat Air Patrol. Fighters form a "barrier" to
prevent enemy aircraft from entering a designated airspace or approaching a
friendly target. Generally set up along most probable corridor of approach,
often involves fighter relays.
B/N: Bombardier/Navigator. US Navy term for co-pilot operator that
handles navigation and targeting operations on bombing missions.
BVR: Beyond Visual Range.
CAP: Combat Air Patrol. Cruising at medium-to-high altitude over a
certain area in search of enemy planes.
CAS: Close Air Support. Dropping bombs in support of ground troops --
also known as an air strike.
Chaff: Strips of metal film released to confuse and reflet signals from
CM: Countermeasures. Used by airborne vehicles in defense against
air-to-air or SAM weapons (chaff, flares, and jammers).
Drag: Force that counteracts an object in motion through the air, such as
ECM: Electronic Countermeasures. Countermeasures that use the
electromagnetic spectrum to confuse or defeat enemy radar and sensor systems.
EFM: Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability. Aircraft designed with the aim of
increasing turn and AoA performance during combat.
FBW: Fly By Wire. Computer-aided flight control -- flight computer
corrects pilot control input according to the flight condition data (altitude,
airspeed) it receives, and uses this to adjust flight surfaces.
Flare: Cartrige-shaped source of heat energy used to divert infared-homing
FLIR: Forward-Looking InfaRed. Sensor that "reads" the heat
signatures of nearby objects.
GIB: Guy in Back. Slang term for WSO, RIO, and B/N
HARM: High-speed, Anti-Radiation Missile. Missile whose seeker head homes
in on radar-emitting sources.
HUD: Heads-Up Display. Glass mounted at the front of the cockpit. The
pilot looks forward through the glass, and important combat and flight
information is reflected onto the HUD and superimposed over his view of the
HVM: High-Velocity Missile.
IFF: Identification Friend or Foe. A coded message sent to a target's IFF
ILS: Instrument Landing System. A radio device at airfields that assists
pilots in low-visibility landings.
IR: Infared. Range of the electromagnetic spectrum where a signal's
intensity is directly related to its heat signature.
Jammer: Electronic countermeasure that emits microwaves to
distort/confuse enemy radarscopes.
Knot: Measure of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour.
Leading: Refers to aiming just ahead of an enemy's flight path.
LGB: Laser-Guided Bomb.
Mach: Speed of sound at sea level (760 ft/s) that is measured in
multiples (Mach 1, Mach 2, etc).
MIGCAP: MiG Close Air Patrol. Patrol of an area in search of enemy
aircraft, no specified objective to protect.
Nautical mile: Aeronautical measurement of distance equal to 6,076 ft.
PGM: Precision Guided Munition. "Smart Bomb" (a guided bomb)
PNVS: Pilot's Night Vision Sensor. Device that aids night vision by
translating heat emissions into pictures.
RIO: Radar Intercept Officer. US Navy term for back-seat weapons and
targeting systems operator.
RAM: Radar Absorbent Material. Material containing thousands of absorbent
pockets that convert radar beams into heat or small electromagnetic fields,
reducing overall radar cross-section.
RCS: Radar Cross Section.
RWS: Range While Search. Radar made that uses continuous wave emissions
to provide contact range and bearing at extremely long range.
RWR: Radar Warning Reciever. Aircraft device that warns the pilot if he
is being tracked by an enemy missile guidance system or air intercept radar.
SAM: Surface-to-Air Missile.
SARH: Semi-Active Radar Homing. Radar-guided missile that relies on
aircraft radar guidance.
SSM: Surface-to-Surface Missile.
Stall: "Loss of lift" condition that occurs when the angle of
attack is too steep for the airfoil to provide any lift. During a stall, the
normally streamlined flow of air over the blade is disrupted.
Thrust: Horizontal, directional force that overcomes drag and powers the
aircraft in the desired direction.
TWS: Track While Scan. Radar mode that uses pulse-Doppler radar to target
a contact, providing detailed tracking information at short range.
VSI: Vertical speed indicator.
STOVL: Short TakeOff and Vertical Landing. Group of aircraft that
redirects thrust using vanes, nozzles or lift fans for yaw and/or pitch
WSO: Weapons Systems Officer. US Navy term for back-seat weapons and
targeting systems operators.
Aircraft Classifications By letter.top
A -- (Attack) -- ex. A-10 Warthog
B -- (Bomber) -- ex. B-52 Stratofortress
C -- (Cargo/Transport) -- ex. C-5 Galaxy
E -- (Electronic Warfare) -- This type of aircraft has a special electronic
installation -- ex. EA-6B Prowler -- which is only different
from the A-6 Intruder because it has an electronic jamming device.
F -- (Fighter) -- ex. F-16 Flacon
K -- (Tanker) -- The "K" comes from Kerosine tanker -- ex. KC-135
O -- (Observation) -- ex. OA-10 Thunderbolt
P -- (Patrol) -- ex. P-3 Orion
R -- (Reconnaissance)
ER -- (Electronic Reconnaissance) -- ex. ER-2
SR -- (Strategic Reconnaissance) -- ex. SR-71 Blackbird
TR -- (Tactical Reconnaissance) -- ex. TR-1
S -- (Anti-Submarine Warfare) -- ex. S-3 Viking
T -- (Trainer) -- ex. T-38 Talon
U -- (Utility) -- ex. U-2 Dragon Lady
V -- (Vertical Takeoff - VTOL/STOL) -- ex. V-22 Osprey
X -- (Experimental/Research) -- ex. X-15
Y -- (Service Test/Prototype) -- ex. YF-17 Cobra
H -- (Helicopter) -- ex. H-46 Sea Knight
AH -- (Attack Helicopter) -- ex. AH-1 HueyCobra
CH -- (Cargo Helicopter) -- ex. CH-46 Sea Knight
HH -- (Recovery Helicopter) -- ex. HH-60 Jayhawk
MH -- (Multi-Mission Helicopter) -- ex. MH-53E Sea Dragon
vOH -- (Observation Helicopter) -- ex. OH-58 Kiowa
SH -- (Anti-Submarine Helicoptier) -- ex. SH-3 Sea King
UH -- (Utility Helicoptier) -- ex. UH-1 Iroquois
The following terms were discontinued in 1962, though still seen today:
L -- (Liaison) -- ex. L-19 Bird Dog
P -- (Pursuit) -- ex. P-51 Mustang
An -- (Antonov) A plane made by the Russian company, Antonov -- ex. An-225
Be -- (Beriev) A plane made by the Russian company, Beriev -- ex. Be-12
IL -- (Ilyushin) A plane made by the Russian company, Ilyushin -- ex. IL-76
Ka -- (Kamov) An aircraft made by the Russian company, Kamov -- ex. KA-50
Mi -- (Mil) An aircraft made by the Russian Helicopter company, Mil -- ex.
MiG -- (Mikoyan-Gurevich) A plane made by the Russian company,
Mikoyan-Gurevich -- ex. MiG-29 Fulcrum
Su/S -- (Sukhoi) A plane made by the Russian company, Sukhoi -- ex. Su-25
Frogfoot, S-37 Berkut
Tu -- (Tupolev) A plane made by the Russian company, Tupolev -- ex. Tu-95 Bear