NATO Active Air Combat Terminology

The significance of “NATO Active Air Combat Terminology,” also referred to as “Brevity Code,” lies in its role as a set of concise and standardized words or phrases developed to ensure clear and efficient communication among allied forces. This terminology provides a common language for pilots and air traffic controllers to coordinate aircraft positions, manoeuvres, engagements, weapons systems, and tactical directives. It is specifically designed to enhance communication efficiency by condensing long sentences or lengthy explanations into brief and easily understandable messages.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Featuring special effects by Photo Vibrance

Brevity codes play a critical role in combat situations, where rapid and accurate communication is essential for mission success. These codes may consist of abbreviations, acronyms, or phonetic spellings to represent specific words or phrases and are often unique to each military branch or unit.

Every brevity code is crafted to enhance communication efficiency and mitigate the potential for misunderstanding or misinterpretation in situations of heightened pressure. Encompassing a broad spectrum of subjects, brevity codes address matters such as aircraft status, mission objectives, threats, and tactical manoeuvres. Typically, they comprise concise phrases or acronyms tailored to convey precise meanings within their respective contexts. For instance, “Fox One” may signify the initiation of a semi-active radar-guided missile, whereas “Bogey Dope” could denote the provision of information concerning an unidentified aircraft’s position or intentions.

NATO Active Air Combat Terminology
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / NATO Active Air Combat Terminology / Eurofighter Typhoon

Bandit, Hostile, Scramble, and numerous other codes serve as powerful triggers, invoking an adrenaline rush in the veins of every military pilot and air traffic controller. These codes form the foundation of NATO’s active air combat terminology, enabling swift and efficient communication between pilots and controllers.

Fundamentally, brevity codes are essential for upholding operational security, alleviating radio congestion, and guaranteeing efficient coordination among military units throughout missions. These codes streamline the swift dissemination of crucial information while mitigating the potential for interception by adversaries. It is imperative to delve into the nuances of each code word to grasp their importance and influence within the high-pressure environment of aerial combat.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / NATO Active Air Combat Terminology
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum is armed with Vympel R-73 Archer and Vympel R-60 Aphid AAMs

Decoding Military Aviation Terms: Bogey, Bandit, Hostile and Scramble

“Bogey” is a term laden with significance in air combat jargon. It denotes an unidentified aerial contact that could potentially be a hostile aircraft, necessitating prompt investigation. Bogeys can be benign, such as civilian aircraft flying in restricted airspace without proper clearance, or they can be potential threats, such as enemy aircraft or drones. Military pilots and air traffic controllers use the term “bogey” to indicate the presence of an unidentified aircraft and to coordinate responses, such as interception or monitoring until the situation is resolved.

The presence of a bogey prompts a rapid and vigorous response from the military, involving the dispatch of fighter jets to intercept and ascertain the nature of the contact. Until its identity is confirmed, the bogey remains under close surveillance as a potential threat.

Engaging a bogey without identification is strictly forbidden and carries severe repercussions. If the bogey is verified as a hostile aircraft, it is then designated as a “bandit,” triggering a fresh set of responses from the military. A bandit refers to any hostile aircraft that poses an immediate threat, necessitating its neutralization to safeguard mission objectives and the well-being of friendly forces. Moreover, the term is employed to characterize any aircraft exhibiting suspicious behaviour or flying at high speeds, potentially exceeding the sound barrier.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Featuring special effects by Photo Vibrance

“Bandit” is a potent term in air combat terminology that refers to a confirmed enemy aircraft not currently engaging with you or your friendly units. This means that if the bandit is not breaching the rules of engagement, you are not allowed to shoot or engage with it. Unlike a Bogey, which denotes an unidentified aircraft, a Bandit has been positively identified as hostile or engaged in hostile activities. However, you must stay alert and track the bandit’s movements, as it could pose a threat at any moment.

Remember, bandits are not to be taken lightly, and swift action may be required to neutralize the threat if necessary. Stay vigilant and ready to act at a moment’s notice when dealing with bandits in the air.

Pilots and air traffic controllers utilize the term “bandit” to convey the presence of hostile aircraft during combat operations, facilitating swift response and coordination among friendly forces to mitigate the threat. The identification and engagement of bandits constitute crucial elements of air-to-air combat and air defence missions.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / The 90s Swedish Supremacy, featuring Saab Draken, Viggen, and Gripen fighters!

“Hostile” is a term used to describe an enemy aircraft that has already engaged or is engaging with friendly units. It is a critical designation indicating an immediate threat to the mission and personnel involved. This term encompasses a range of threats, including enemy troops, vehicles, aircraft, or other assets that directly endanger friendly forces or objectives. When a bandit transitions to a hostile status, it becomes a legitimate target, and units are authorized to engage without delay or hesitation.

The primary objective in such scenarios is to swiftly and effectively neutralize the threat. Any delay or indecision can lead to severe consequences, highlighting the importance of prompt and decisive action to eliminate the hostile threat. Identifying and neutralizing hostile elements remains a primary objective in military operations, whether through defensive measures, offensive actions, or other strategies aimed at mitigating their threat.

We would encourage you to explore this article as well:  Unlocking the Best of LOAL Missile Guidance
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Saab Gripen E /  Featuring special effects by Photo Vibrance

“Scramble” is a commanding term utilized to depict the urgent launch of a fighter plane in response to an incoming threat. It denotes the necessity for immediate action and preparedness to engage in combat at a moment’s notice. Upon receiving the scramble order, pilots are required to swiftly take off, without delay for additional instructions from the ground. This rapid response is vital to intercept and engage potential threats before they can inflict harm.

The term originates from the early days of aviation when pilots had to hastily “scramble” to their aircraft in response to an alarm or alert. Today, the process involves a coordinated effort among air traffic controllers, radar operators, and military personnel to rapidly deploy aircraft to address the identified threat or situation.

Scrambles are often conducted under high-pressure circumstances and require swift and decisive action to ensure the safety and security of airspace, military assets, and civilian populations. They are a critical component of air defence and security operations around the world.

Photo Credit: SAAB AB
Photo Credit: SAAB AB / An artist’s impression of the Saab Gripen E equipped with Meteor and IRIS-T AAMs being fired.

Decoding Military Aviation Terms: Angels, Roger, Bingo and Tiger

“Angels” is a significant altitude instruction code utilized in air combat operations. It denotes an aircraft’s altitude in thousands of feet above sea level. For instance, “Angels 5” signifies an altitude of 5,000 feet ASL (Above Sea Level), while “Angels 15” or “Angels one-five” indicates an altitude of 15,000 feet. These codes play a crucial role in enabling swift and precise communication, especially in high-pressure scenarios where time is of the essence.

A pilot must understand and use these codes fluently to avoid misunderstandings and ensure the success of the mission. The use of “Angels” allows for a concise and universally understood method of conveying altitude, which is crucial for maintaining safe separation between aircraft and coordinating tactical manoeuvres.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy / VX-9 Vampires EA-18G Growler, flying over the Sierras on August 24, 2008. The aircraft is equipped with various detection and jamming pods, drop tanks, AGM-88 HARM missiles, AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, and a centerline jamming pod

” Roger “  is a powerful term used to signify that a message has been received and understood, while “Wilco” is a shorter form of “Will Comply,” indicating not only acknowledgement but also an intention to comply with the received instructions or orders. In modern air combat, “Wilco” is often seen as a mere formality, and “Roger” can be used to signify both receipt and compliance. For instance, if your commander orders you to engage a target, responding with “Roger” indicates your understanding of the order and your intention to move forward and engage the target.

The term originated from the early days of radio communication, where the phonetic alphabet was commonly used to spell out letters. The word “Roger” represents the letter “R,” which stands for “Received.” Over time, “Roger” became universally understood as an affirmative acknowledgement in radio communication.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / A close-up image of the stunning F-22 Raptor, just after takeoff

“Bingo” is a critical term in air combat terminology used to denote the minimum fuel required to return safely to base, particularly in military contexts, indicating a predetermined fuel state or fuel reserve threshold during a flight. Before taking off, pilots calculate the required fuel based on the mission’s distance and set a specific amount as “bingo fuel.” As the fuel level approaches the minimum limit, the cockpit warns the pilot with an alarm, indicating that the aircraft is about to run out of fuel.

Bingo fuel is vital as it ensures the safe return of the aircraft to the base without any fuel shortage mishaps. The term originated from the game of bingo, where players call out “Bingo!” upon completing a predetermined pattern of numbers.

When you hit Bingo, a critical moment in any air combat operation, you need to immediately disengage and bug out to the home plate. There is another crucial level called “Joker,” which means the pilot needs to finish their current engagement and not take on any new targets. Declaring Bingo is a vital message to friendly assets and controllers that you cannot commit to any further engagements or provide any further support to the mission, and you are immediately returning to base. This message is critical, especially in high-pressure combat situations where every second counts.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / An F-35 Lightning II releasing flares moments before firing an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile in a practice session

“Tiger” is a brevity code indicating that the aircraft possesses sufficient fuel, armament, and resources to accept the commander’s orders and engage in the mission. It serves as a robust signal, demonstrating the readiness and confidence of the pilot and crew to participate in combat operations.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / A Saudi F-15 Eagle

Decoding Military Aviation Terms: Bullseye, Bogey Dope, Mud and Break

” Bullseye “  is a critical term in air combat, used to identify a reference point in space from which bearings can be given. Rather than referencing the location of any one aircraft, bearings are given from the Bullseye. These bearings are expressed in degrees and are rounded up or down to the nearest ten, always ending in zero. The Bullseye is crucial because it is the same for all participants involved in the mission, allowing all aircraft to understand bearings given by others without confusion.

The term originates from the centre point of a target or a shooting range, commonly marked with a circular pattern. In military usage, the “bullseye” point is typically a predetermined geographic location, often expressed in terms of latitude and longitude, within the operational area. This point serves as a focal reference for coordinating and directing aircraft movements, such as directing them toward a target or providing navigation instructions.

The Bullseye doesn’t need to be a specific point or landmark, but it is an arbitrary point in mid-air that all friendly assets are aware of during mission preparation. The term “Bullseye” carries significant weight in air combat and is used to communicate critical information clearly and concisely.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Two Indian Air Force Rafale aircraft armed with Mica AAMs during practice sessions

” Bogey Dope “  is a term used by pilots to request information about enemy aircraft in their vicinity. This term is commonly used during air combat operations or air defence situations where pilots or controllers need to quickly exchange information about the presence and movements of unidentified aircraft in the area. By requesting or providing a “bogey dope,” pilots can gain situational awareness and make informed decisions about their flight path, potential threats, or engagement strategies.

We would encourage you to explore this article as well:  IL-76 The Transporter cum AWACS of IAF

This request is mostly coordinated by the AWACS ( Airborne Early Warning & Control System ) or fighter jet like F-18G Growler aircraft, which responds with a “BRAA” callout. BRAA stands for Bearing, Range, Altitude, and Aspects. If needed, the AWACS can provide additional information about the aspect of the non-friendly contact. Afterwards, similarly, air defence units might use “bogey dope” to share information among themselves during intercept missions or other defensive operations.

Alongside this article, don’t miss the opportunity to acquire an exclusive collection of awe-inspiring 1/72 premium diecast scale models featuring the legendary F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon, F-18 Hornet, Dassault Rafale, and Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. These extraordinary aircraft, available only at Air Models, embody sheer excellence and are renowned for their unparalleled might on the battlefield. Seize the moment and click here now to secure your piece before the limited stock is depleted.

If a target’s nose is pointed towards you, his aspect is ‘Hot‘; if pointed away, he is ‘Cold‘; and if travelling perpendicularly to you, he is ‘Flanking‘. A contact is a radar return, unlike in ground warfare. A ‘contact’ does not imply entry into a fight, which in Dog Fighting is called ‘Merging’. If you can visually see the targets, you will say ‘Tally‘, while if you are locking onto a radar target, you give the callout ‘Raygun‘.

In fact, during intense situations, codes such as ‘Nails‘ come into use, indicating that you are being detected by an enemy aircraft’s radar, and ‘Spike‘ denotes that the radar has locked you as a target. If a friend calls ‘Raygun’ and your aircraft’s radar warning receiver shows that you have been locked, it was probably your friend who locked you by mistake. You then call out ‘Buddy Spike,’ followed by your heading, altitude, and speed.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / F/A-18C Hornet

“Mud” is a callout that refers to being locked by ground radar, such as a SAM (surface-to-air missile) site or anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) threat. When a pilot hears “Mud,” it means that they have been detected and are being tracked by ground radar. This information is crucial as it can help the pilot take evasive action and avoid being hit by a surface-to-air missile. This callout is especially important in areas where the enemy has a well-established air defence system, as it alerts the pilot to the presence of potential threats, allowing them to adjust their tactics accordingly to mitigate the risk of being shot down.

The term “mud” likely originated from the acronym “MUD,” which stands for “Missile Under Detection.” When an aircraft’s sensors detect a SAM or AAA system targeting it, the onboard systems may alert the pilot with an automated callout of “Mud.” This allows the pilot to take evasive action or deploy countermeasures to avoid being hit by the incoming threat.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Featuring special effects by Photo Vibrance

The term “Break” refers to executing an abrupt and sudden turn in the direction indicated by the pilot, at maximum performance level, to avoid a collision or evade an incoming threat. This manoeuvre is primarily employed in air combat situations, where a rapid change in direction is essential to gain an advantage over an opponent or to evade enemy fire. Typically used in radio communications, the term “Break” signifies that the pilot is initiating this manoeuvre, often followed by the direction of the turn (e.g., “Break left!” or “Break right!”).

When a pilot calls “Break,” it serves as an urgent warning to other pilots in the vicinity that they are taking evasive action and changing their flight path abruptly. This manoeuvre is typically executed by making a sharp turn or performing a high-G manoeuvre to disrupt the tracking of enemy weapons or to avoid a collision with another aircraft.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / A mesmerizing close-up shot of the F-35 A, as it releases chaff during intense combat practice sessions

Decoding Military Aviation Terms: Scram, Weapons Hold, Cleared Hot and Weapons Tight

“Scram” is a term used in military and aviation contexts, particularly in emergencies, to convey the urgent command to immediately start or activate something. Its usage is often associated with rapidly launching aircraft to engage as quickly as possible towards a given heading or activating equipment in response to a critical situation. This can occur during a surprise attack, the entry of a hostile enemy aircraft into the airspace, or any other situation that necessitates immediate action.

In the context of aircraft operations, “Scram” is commonly used as a shortened form of “Scramble,” which is the command given to quickly prepare and launch aircraft in response to an emergency or an immediate threat. When the order to “Scram” is issued, pilots and ground crews must swiftly prepare the aircraft for takeoff to intercept or respond to the identified threat.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / This Luftwaffe Tornado is armed with two HARM ARM missiles under its centre fuselage and one IRIS-T AAM on its port side wing

“Continue Dry” or “Weapons Hold” are commanding terms that instruct pilots to maintain their current course without releasing any weapons until given clearance to do so. Even if already on an attack run, compliance with the order to continue dry is mandatory, requiring pilots to pass over the target area without releasing any munitions. This directive may be issued to ensure the protection of friendly assets remaining in the area. Adhering to orders and exercising caution in such circumstances is paramount for the mission’s success and the safety of all personnel involved.

“Continue Dry” is a command given to pilots or aircrew during training exercises or simulated combat scenarios to indicate that they should refrain from using live weapons or ammunition. “Weapons Hold” is a command given to pilots or aircrew of bombers during actual combat or operational missions to indicate that they should refrain from engaging targets with their weapons.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Unveil the Best of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

“Cleared Hot” is a military term used to authorize the release of ordnance or the engagement of targets with weapons, typically from an aircraft. This designation indicates that the pilot is now permitted to use their weapons and attack the designated target. It is a crucial directive that requires confirmation by the pilot to ensure the correct target has been identified and that there are no friendly forces in the vicinity. Once the pilot confirms the callout, they can proceed with the engagement and release their weapons to strike the target. It is noteworthy that the “Cleared Hot” callout is only issued by a qualified controller who possesses the authority to authorize the use of weapons in the specific engagement.

We would encourage you to explore this article as well:  AIRBUS C295

This term is commonly used in close air support missions or other combat operations where aircraft are tasked with providing fire support to ground forces or engaging enemy targets. The authorization to go “Cleared Hot” is often given by a forward air controller (FAC) or other command authority who has identified the target and deemed it appropriate for engagement.

Photo Credit: SAAB AB / The IRIS-T missile‘s thrust vector control system enhances its agility, enabling effective engagement of highly manoeuvrable targets.

“Weapons Tight” is an order that restricts the release of weapons solely to pre-designated targets or to targets that pose an imminent threat. This directive is commonly issued in situations where there is a high risk of causing unintended harm or collateral damage, such as when operating near friendly forces, civilians, or protected structures. It may also be employed when there is uncertainty about the identity of potential targets, necessitating pilots to verify their targets before engaging.

On the other hand, “Weapons Free” is a more aggressive order that allows the release of weapons on any non-friendly targets, including potential threats. It is often used in a high-intensity combat scenario where time is of the essence and decisive actions are necessary.

In general, “Weapons Tight” serves as a crucial directive in military operations, aiding in the prevention of unnecessary casualties and the mitigation of the risk of unintended escalation or collateral damage.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / The B-1 Lancer (Bone) internal weapon bays can house various munitions, enhancing aerodynamic efficiency and stealthiness by reducing drag and radar cross-section in its swept wing configurations.

Decoding Military Aviation Terms: Splash, Cease Fire, Hold Fire and Home Plate

“Splash” indicates that, during the operation, it has been confirmed that the enemy aircraft has been destroyed. This term is frequently utilized in air-to-air combat scenarios to signify the successful elimination of the target. It serves as a potent word that can evoke a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment for the pilot or team responsible for the successful takedown. Additionally, it acts as a vital communication tool between pilots and their commanders, enabling them to monitor the mission’s status and adjust tactics accordingly.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / A stunning close-up image of the Mirage 2000-5 armed with Mica missiles

“Cease Fire” is a command to halt all offensive action immediately. This entails ceasing firing your weapons and disengaging from any hostile targets. It signifies a cessation of engagement altogether and prohibits further engagement without receiving new orders. It is crucial to adhere to this command as it can prevent friendly fire incidents and collateral damage. Once the order to “Cease Fire” has been issued, all aircraft should return to their designated course or orbit.

“Cease Fire” is an essential part of military operations, international peacekeeping efforts, and conflict resolution processes, helping to prevent further violence, protect civilian populations, and create conditions for dialogue and negotiation to resolve disputes.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / A Polish F-16C is armed with 2 JDAMs on the port side and one Paveway LGB in its starboard side weapons bay. In addition, it carries 2 Sidewinders and 2 AMRAAMs on both sides of the AAM missile rails. Furthermore, it has a Sniper Targeting pod on the forward fuselage along with an external fuel tank.

” Hold Fire “  means that the engagement is over, and you must immediately stop firing weapons, even if you are in the middle of a dogfight. You need to break off and disengage as soon as possible to avoid any further conflict.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / A fantastic image of the MiG-29 Fulcrum releasing flares during an air show

” Home Plate ”  is a term used in aviation to refer to the aircraft’s home base or carrier. When ordered to return to “Home Plate,” the pilot is instructed to return to their original location or starting point, typically an airbase or aircraft carrier. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as low fuel, mechanical issues, or the completion of a mission. Upon receiving the “Home Plate” order, the pilot must immediately navigate back to their base while following proper protocols and procedures to ensure a safe return.

In the context of military operations, “Home Plate” serves as a central hub for aircraft operations, maintenance, and logistical support. It is typically a secure and well-equipped facility where aircraft are based between missions, undergo maintenance and repairs, and are refuelled and rearmed in preparation for subsequent sorties.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / Captured in exquisite detail: Two Mirage 2000-5 adorned with lethal Mica missiles, poised for action

In conclusion, military aviation terminology is a vital aspect of ensuring clear and effective communication among pilots, air traffic controllers, and ground personnel during complex and high-stakes operations. From brevity codes like “Bogey Dope” to commands like “Weapons Tight,” these specialized terms play a crucial role in enhancing situational awareness, coordination, and safety in the dynamic environment of aerial combat and reconnaissance. By adhering to standardized terminology and procedures such as “Home Plate” for base operations, military aviation professionals can execute missions with precision, professionalism, and the utmost regard for mission success and the safety of personnel.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / AH-64E Apache Helicopter

Important Announcement for Our Valued Readers!

After an article is published, it is possible that updates or changes may have occurred beyond the time of publication. Therefore, it is important to be aware that certain information in the article might be outdated. To ensure the most accurate analysis, it is highly recommended to verify the content with the latest sources available.

However, we are dedicated to delivering outstanding articles on military products and global updates. Maintaining quality and smooth operation requires resources. Your support sustains our efforts in providing insightful content. By purchasing high-quality products through our affiliated links, you help us keep our platform alive and acquire top-notch items. Your unwavering support is invaluable and inspires us to strive further.

We welcome your suggestions and requests for more information, as we value feedback from our readers. If there’s specific defence material or equipment not covered on our site, please share your request in the comments. We’ll strive to research and provide the required information. We sincerely thank you for your unwavering interest in our website, and we eagerly anticipate hearing from you! Enjoy your reading experience!

4 thoughts on “NATO Active Air Combat Terminology”

Leave a comment