Air-to-air missions

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Air missions focus on protecting friendly aircraft from bandits or forcing enemy aircraft into engagements so they can be decisively engaged and destroyed.

Learning objectives

  1. Understand the escort and close escort missions
  2. Understand combat air patrols (CAP), including barrier CAP (BARCAP), targeted CAP (TARCAP) and high asset value CAP (HAVCAP)
  3. Understand sweeps
  4. Understand defensive counter air (DCA) missions

Mission success factors

  • DCA: Defensive Counter Air. DCA missions are meant to protect friendly assets in a particular area. DCA flight plans have two CAP points and a patrol time. To ensure success you must stay on station and prevent friendly assets in and around your AOR (Area of Responsibility) from being attacked by OPFOR. The main problem with DCA is knowing which asset to defend with a war going on around you.
  • BARCAP (or CAP): Barrier CAP. A standard CAP where your flights will protect a geographical area from enemy aircraft. Arrive on time at the first CAP point and stay in the CAP for the assigned patrol time for mission success (usually 30 minutes but that depends on the flight plan). If you have to leave early for whatever reason you must request relief from the AWACS. Try not to fly too far from your CAP point and set a commit criterion of 25 Nm. The difference between CAP and DCA is that CAP is not tied to specific assets so it is easier to get success with survival and CAP time, even if you didn’t shoot any OPFOR aircraft down
  • HAVCAP: High Value CAP. Same as CAP but mission success is tied to the survival of the high value asset you are tasked to protect. CAP patrol time is usually longer with HAVCAP (defaults to 1 hour).
  • TARCAP: Target CAP. Same as CAP but you are protecting a specific target area (usually while other aircraft strike it). You must ensure the strikers survive their attack.
  • RESCAP: Rescue CAP. Same as CAP but you must protect friendly rescue (usually choppers) assets while they work in a specific area.
  • AMBUSHCAP: Same as CAP but you’re hiding from the OPFOR, usually behind a mountain at low altitude.
  • SWEEP: Aggressive Air to Air flight that has no patrol time but 3 target steerpoints where you will attack and destroy as many OPFOR aircraft as possible without friendly losses in your flight. You must shoot down at least one enemy and survive for success.
  • INTERCEPT: This Air to Air flight has a very specific target that must be intercepted and destroyed around the target steerpoint. Mission success is tied to the failure of the intercepted aircraft mission. An abort by them is considered as success for you. Mission can unfortunately fail if another unit downed your target.
  • ESCORT: Your flight must protect a package from OPFOR aircraft. You will meet with your target package and fly with them (usually in front of them to ensure they are not attacked by enemy aircraft). The trick with Escort is to find a good compromise between commit criteria and staying with the package. Enemy forces will try to drag you away from your target, so other enemy flights can destroy them while you are not there to protect them. For mission success the target package must not sustain any loss.