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    FAC Training Guide

    UPDATED 22/01/2018

    Originally by Oirien, slightly updated and maintained by Tomo.

    Edits and Feedback by SilberJojo and Trinoc

    With thanks to Shaddowlinkk and Kreeper for their previous guides

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    Theory

    1. Basic elements of game plans, 6 lines, and aircraft control

    2. FAC controlled airspace, visually controlled airspace, basic airspace management

    3. Racetracks, Orbits, Battlepoints etc.

    4. Airspace control for multiple wings of aircraft

    5. Air Asset Hierarchy

    6. Transport Control

    7. CSAR

    8. Target Priorities

    9. Types of AA and their Capabilities

    10. Suggested FAC equipment

     

    Evaluations

    1. Correctly sets up AO’s, LZ’s and any other mission critical elements.

    2. Displays adequate ability to control aircraft

    3. Displays adequate communications ability

    4. Correctly uses at least one 6 line during the mission

    5. Does not control the bird in a manner that causes the loss of the bird or a strike that hits friendlies.

     

    1. Basic elements of game plans, 6 lines, and aircraft control

     

    At its simplest game plans and 6 lines are just the method in which you give the aircraft sufficient intel to complete a strike successfully, the trick to this is to be as succinct as possible. The elements of the game plan are the type of control and the method of attack. Types of control are as follows;

    • Type 1: FAC will visually acquire the target and the attack aircraft during the terminal phase of an attack, prior to weapons release, while maintaining control of individual attacks.

    • Type 2: FAC will utilize other measures (not direct visual contact) to mitigate risk of friendly fire while maintaining control of individual attacks.

    • Type 3: FAC will utilize other measures (not direct visual contact) to mitigate risk while permitting multiple attacks in one engagement.

    Method of attack is as follows;

    • Bomb on Target: Aircrew is required to TALLY (visually acquire) the target.

    • Bomb on Coordinate: Ordnance is employed on a specified set of coordinated. These coordinates can be given either as a grid mark or through other methods such as laser designation or GPS targeting.

    In reality what this means is how are you making sure the bird doesn’t blow up friendlies instead of the enemy.

    Finally as part of the game plan this would be where you would call out if you want specific ordinance on the target.

     

    The FK standard CAS 6 line follows this format.

     

    1. IP/BP (ingress/battle point)
    2. Target description (e.g. 2 squads of EI, 3x T80, etc.)
    3. Target location (grid coords, visual cues, map markers)
    4. Mark (Laser, IR laser, smoke, flare, etc.)
    5. Nearest Friendlies (Distance estimate to nearest friendlies)
    6. Egress (what direction the bird should leave after striking)

     

    Following the 6 line you can add any additional details/orders that are pertinent to the strike such as order to approach NoE due to AA threats, specific ordinance requests etc.

     

    It should be noted that the names of the lines are not necessary to say and just mean more words for the same intel. Also the aircraft operators are only required to read back the target description, location and where the nearest friendlies are. They should then call out when they have “eyes on”, which you then would call “cleared hot” or “wave off”. A wave off or abort order can be for a number of reasons, either the air asset has no eyes on target, AA has moved into the AO, friendlies have moved closer to the target and so on.

     

    An example of a 6 line below is included below.

     

    FAC: Raptor this is FAC advise when ready for Gameplan, over.

    Raptor: Raptor reads, ready for gameplan, over.

    FAC: Type 1, Bombs on Target, one times Hellfire, over.

    Raptor: Type 1, Bombs on Target, one times Hellfire, over.

    FAC: Good readback, advise when ready for 6-line, over.

    Raptor: Ready for 6-line, over.

    FAC: IP Gold. (References IP or BP for the pilot to use)

    FAC: Two times MBT. (What is the target?)

    FAC: Map marker “T-80’s here” east of the church. (Where is the target?)

    FAC: Laser Designator on target. (how do the pilots know where to shoot?)

    FAC: Friendlies 150 meters east. (Where are the nearest friendlies?)

    FAC: Egress east (How do you want the bird to leave after the attack?)

    FAC: Request backbrief

     

    The pilot would then read this back, and the FAC would make any corrections and additional comments.

     

    FAC: Backbrief correct, report IP inbound

    Raptor: Crossing IP.

    Raptor: Spot or No Joy (eyes on target/ marker or no eyes)

    FAC: Cleared Hot/ Wave Off

    FAC: BDA

     

    If FAC can’t get an accurate BDA, FAC can request the aircraft circle around and visually acquire a BDA or find out from friendlies in the area. This is necessary in case a repeat strike needs to be issued.

    In this case FAC will radio Raptor and request a rerun of previous strike, adjusting the 6 line where necessary.

     

    2. FAC controlled airspace, visually controlled airspace, basic airspace management

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    There are essentially three types of airspace control. FAC controlled, Visually controlled, and uncontrolled airspace. It is common practise to request that the aircraft call out when they enter and leave an airspace. This gives you more control as you are always aware of your air assets movements.

     

    FAC Controlled:

    In a FAC controlled airspace aircraft do not have permission to enter, land or engage targets unless given express permission from the FAC.

    Visually controlled:

    In a Vis Controlled airspace FAC, the first aircraft or highest ranking aircraft in the area has command of the airspace. This means that either FAC or the controlling element will call rotation and landing order, in order to mitigate risk of in flight crashes or crashes on landing.

    Uncontrolled airspace:

    In an uncontrolled airspace  the aircraft are able to move and fly without restriction or asking permission from FAC. This is of course also dependent on whether the FAC has the aircraft on or off the leash (On the leash being under your direct command, and off the leash allowing the pilot to have a degree of autonomy).

     

    The most usual uses of these airspaces can vary from mission to mission however as a general rule Visually controlled airspace is used mainly for friendly Airbases or FARPs. FAC controlled airspace is generally for your AOs that contain the enemy objectives and are clearly marked with all the pertinent information for your pilots such as AA presence etc. and uncontrolled airspace is everything in between.

    JO8PdYAEqCSGzyLcz4ordBPiYlDuQClCcK-ucRUHbasU5V0mS-pXXTcHP0Tlig_ShYFQ8NZQKy6QlgwblFS11EtpxfOLJsCr-r3uzpxmSNrcZ5z4fi0yMuN-J_ZM_lgQU9smRI0l  Included example for a proper use of AO marking.

     

    3. Racetracks, Orbits, Battlepoints etc

    Close Air Support (CAS) is the hardest part of being an effective FAC. You have to know the capabilities of the aircraft in and out, and be able to analyse the map. Additionally you must understand the situation on the ground, be able to monitor both ground comms and air comms, and react to the changing situation at any given moment. So to make our lives easier we set up specific orders for the aircraft so you have more control over the situation.

    Racetracks and Orbits are primarily used in relation to fixed wing aircraft. Racetracks are often used when there is a combination of advantageous terrain (such as mountain ranges) and enemy anti air, so that your birds are always able to use the hardcover of mountain valleys to help break missile locks or to break vision from anti air guns.

     

    Orbits can be set up either circling the AO or offset from the AO, depending on enemy threats, offset orbits are generally more effective when you expect enemy air assets to attempt to engage your aircraft and circling orbits for when there is little to no risk to your aircraft and as such can attack and egress from most directions safely. 

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    Rotary wing aircraft can also function in an orbit, however generally need to be closer to the combat to be effective, so where a fixed wing orbit may be at 3-6km away from the objective, a gunship would likely operate at around 1-3km, and a bird with door gunners would need to operate under 1km to be effective.

    Gunships such as Apaches (AH-64) or Havocs (Mi-28N) often work very well using battlepoints. Battlepoints are essentially a place from where a gunship can engage the objective, a good battlepoint has nearby terrain features that allow the aircraft to break line of sight and missile lock easily, mountains and valleys are good areas to set up battlepoints.

    For fixed weaponry CAS, such as the AH-6 Littlebird variants, battlepoints and orbits are generally ill advised and rather keeping the bird at a hold point and then bringing them in with slashing attacks etc.

    A good FAC should also keep in mind that rotary wing aircraft have a large number of possible attack postures they can take, such as slashing attacks where the aircraft makes a high speed pass over the area making their attack during the run. They can also make side strafing runs, where the aircraft moves in a perpendicular attack vector, primarily useful when using guns or guided weaponry rather than dumbfire rockets. The last main attack posture is the pop-up or pedestal posture where the bird sits just behind hard or soft cover, lifts just above the cover making the attack and rapidly dropping back below the cover.

     

    4. Airspace control for multiple wings of aircraft

    The workload for dealing with multiple air wings can end up being far more complicated, however relying on your flight leads can make your work much easier. There are however parts of working with multiple wings especially when they are different classes of aircraft, that are more difficult. The primary thing is to avoid midair collisions, and to do this, the best method is to restrict airspace in the Z-axis, for example you have a flight of chinooks, an apache and an A-10 as your assets. The chinooks should never need to go to high altitude flight, so restrict them to to a flight ceiling of for example 100m above ground. Your apache doesn’t need to remain in super high airspace but it does gain some benefits from altitude and being able to shoot more effectively from height, but you also don’t want it to intersect the airspace of the chinooks, so you restrict it with a flight floor of 150m and a flight ceiling of 500m. Then with your A-10 you don’t need to set a flight ceiling but you’d set a flight floor of 600m or similar. Now this doesn’t mean that they can’t break these limits if they need to, but unless there is an operational risk to the aircraft they should not enter each other's airspace. You can also designate certain areas as no fly zones for specific aircraft if for example you plan on having the apache and chinooks operating in a small distinct area, you could say to the a-10 do not fly in the area they are operating.

    5. Air Asset Hierarchy

    The first thing you need to remember as FAC is that you are in control of the aircraft, Platoon HQ makes requests of the FAC and it’s your job to try and make it happen, however you are not their subordinate but rather a separate commander. You are responsible for the aircraft in the same way they are responsible for the infantry.

    The way orders are sent down the chain for air assets is a little different than all of the other assets and squads, simply because at the end of the day it is the pilot's job is to make sure the aircraft remains intact. For example we’ll say Bravo has finished at their first objective and need to be extracted and inserted near their next objective. Platoon calls in the request to FAC to move Bravo to Objective Kilo. FAC would then assign two LZ’s, one for pickup and one for drop off.

    FAC would then contact the transport flight lead telling them to assign sufficient helicopters to move Bravo from LZ 1 to LZ 2. The flight lead then assigns whichever pilots he feels are best suited to the job, influenced by whether or not they already have tasking, pilot skill, distance of pilot to objectives, etc. those pilots would then go and complete the tasking.

    However this becomes a little bit more complex as the flight lead or pilots can countermand any given order with proper reasoning. In the previous example, FAC could tell the Plt that Objective Kilo is too close to AA, the flight lead could say that all birds are currently occupied, or the pilots could say when coming in to land that it’s too hot and wave off. Remember in all these cases it’s up to the combined elements to attempt to fulfill the needs of the platoon as best as possible and as such if any order is unable to be fulfilled, an alternative should be provided.

    At the end of the day it’s the responsibility of all elements of the airspace hierarchy to do everything in their power to make sure the aircraft remain operational and the squads that rely on the aircraft are kept alive.

     

    6. Transport Control

    The main parts of transport control is making sure you are picking appropriate LZ’s for your birds, maintaining constant communication between you and the flight lead during the insert or exfil. This can be done by setting up Checkpoints along the flight plan. Always remember that a certain amount of trust needs to be given here, so that your pilots are able to make the best choice for their bird and the squads they are inserting.

    As such an ideal LZ is in an area with no hard vegetation, in a flat area, with enough space for the birds you’re bringing in, not under enemy fire, and not visible from expected enemy held locations. That being said there are exceptions to most of these rules, such as undergoing pinnacle landings, or hot LZ’s if the circumstances absolutely require it.

    Other factors to consider when choosing your LZ is the distance from the LZ to the squads objective, ideally minimising the squad's time on the ground, also bearing in mind cover for the troops on the way to their objective.

    Bear in mind that micro-managing your birds is not necessarily useful, and allowing your flight leads to make the flight plans for their element or other aspects of the flight such as formations etc. can drastically reduce your workload.

     

    7. CSAR

    CASEVAC/CSAR also generally falls under FAC’s responsibilities. The primary concerns with CSAR FAC are that you generally need to be far more aggressive with your LZ’s as you generally need to bring the birds to the troops, as often multiple squaddies will be crippled or unconscious. Medevac missions require you to understand the basics of medical categorisation, these are described as patient categories, normally CAT 1 through 4, with 1 being most urgent and 4 being the least.

    • CAT 1 - Urgent [Patient is unconscious, immediate risk of death]

    • CAT 2 - Priority [Combat ineffective personnel, broken limbs but conscious and ambulatory]

    • CAT 3 - Routine [Minor wounds and resupply of medical equipment]

    • CAT 4 - At your convenience [Body collection]

     

    Due to our necessity to land at the troops, we often come into hot LZ’s and as such we use a colour code for how hostile the LZ is.

    • Green - Safe [No Hostiles]

    • Blue - Secured [Sporadic, Inaccurate fire]

    • Yellow - In Contact [ Hostile present in area, LZ itself is secure]

    • Red - Heavy Contact [Hostiles in and around the LZ, squad under sustained fire]

    8. Target Priority

    Target priority is pretty simple as FAC, first and foremost, kill the threats to the bird, secondly the largest threats to the ground, generally in the order of heavy armor, light armor, clustered infantry. This is not a hard and fast rule, there are almost always exceptions however these are good guidelines to follow.

     

    9. Types of AA and their Capabilities

    Disclaimer: You should not send the Aircraft into an AO, where there is known to be Anti-Air. This should only be done on special circumstances.

    2 Types of AA: Lock on and FLAK

    Lock on:

    • Shoots a homing missile after the aircraft. These are mostly “Heat-Seeking”.  

    • Max. Range of 4.5 Km

    • Will destroy or disable most aircraft in one hit

    • Avoid by: NoE-Flight, Ducking behind terrain (see Battlepoints)

    • Includes

      • ManPads (Stingers, Iglas)

      • Static Versions of the above

      • Vehicle mounted versions of the above

      • Air-to-Air missiles [For these the max Range is Higher (like 20 Km higher)]


     

    FLAK:

    • Shoots multiple Projectiles

    • Max. Range - Effective Range 4km, 14km possible range.

    • Can be very destructive, if it hits and it will hit.

    • Avoid by flying very high/Staying out of Range/Moving

    • Includes

      • ZU-23-2 (Truck mounted and Static)

      • ZSU-23-4 (lightly armoured Anti-Air Vehicle (SPAA)) commonly known as Shilka

      • Autocannons (technically not Flak, behaves like it though)

     

    Additions (These are normal Hazards in an AO, which need to be considered, but should not prevent an Aircraft from entering an AO):

    .50 cal’s:

    • Max. Range 1 Km

    • Dangerous, if close, especially against unarmoured Aircraft

    • Avoid by: Speed, Distance

    • Includes: Technicals, Static Guns, Guns mounted on Armour

     

    Small Arms:

    • Max. Range 500m

    • Dangerous to single systems in unarmoured Aircraft

    • Avoid by: Speed, Distance,

    • Includes:

      • All Handheld Weapons

      • Everything smaller than a .50 cal

    RPG’s:

    • Max. Range 600m

    • Dangerous only if you land right in front of them/stationary



    10. Suggested FAC Equipment

    • Long Range Radio

    • Laser Designator (SOFLAM Suggested + batteries)

    • IR Laser attachment

    • Coloured Smoke

    • Underslung Grenade Launcher + Smokes

    • Map Tools

    • Maglite

    • Tracer Ammunition

     

    If you have any questions or queries regarding these concepts feel free to ask any FAC trainer or tag holder, or sit in on one of them actively FACing an operation (ask first).

     

    Thanks for Reading!

    Happy FACing




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