Search the Web

Search WWW 
Search this site



Glossary From Grunt and Classifications from G.A.C.

       Find a term on this page:

Glossary top

AA: 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 vehicle.

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 forget" tactics.

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 target.

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 development program.

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 TOW-2).

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 to attack.

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 rader-guided weapons.

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 air resistance.

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 missiles.

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 outside world.

HVM: High-Velocity Missile.

IFF: Identification Friend or Foe. A coded message sent to a target's IFF transponder.

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 maneuverability.

WSO: Weapons Systems Officer. US Navy term for back-seat weapons and targeting systems operators. 


International Aircraft Classifications By


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 Stratotanker

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 Cossack

Be -- (Beriev) A plane made by the Russian company, Beriev -- ex. Be-12 Tchiaka

IL -- (Ilyushin) A plane made by the Russian company, Ilyushin -- ex. IL-76 Candid

Ka -- (Kamov) An aircraft made by the Russian company, Kamov -- ex. KA-50 Hokum

Mi -- (Mil) An aircraft made by the Russian Helicopter company, Mil -- ex. Mi-26 Halo

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



Go To Top