Welcome to the Mission Briefing. Let’s get started.
It goes (roughly summarized) from (departure airbase) up to the North Sea. We fly either in four-ship or two-ship formations. Our area of interest today is the airspace around the island „Helgoland“. Our overall mission objective is to protect the island against enemy air strikes. The mission type is called „Point Defense“. It is a variant of Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and therefore a Defensive Counter Air Mission. The responsible controller for this area will be the Loneship CRC on VHF 132.775. Total duration in the area about 1,5 hrs. The procedure until reaching the target area (procedures on the ground, departure, route, formation management etc.) is not part of this briefing and solely under the responsibility of the assigned Flight Lead(s).
As soon as we’re inside German Airspace, we check in at Loneship, authenticate ourselves and let him know, what our intentions are. We’ll then proceed on our planned route further up to the area. As soon as we overfly the coast line, we are going to perform a so-called „Fence check„. Thereafter we’ll inform Loneship that we are on station and ready. Otherwise Loneship will ask us as usual. After that the actual mission starts.
The actual mission
During the actual mission we fly two so-called „Counteropposing CAPs“ which looks like this:
While we fly the assigned CAPs, we wait for tactical pictures from Loneship. There are essentially two possible formats:
- Broadcast Control
- In broadcast control the controller generally gives the position, and other relevant information as available, of any hostile or unknown targets in a given area, relative to a geographical or navigational fix (so-called „Bullseye“) within that area. The reference point (Bullseye) is known to the friendlies, as is their own position relative to that point. As the controller calls target positions and movement relative to the reference, the pilots can calculate their own position relative to the target, and they may be assigned by the controller to conduct their own intercepts based on this information. Unlike with close control, no group of fighters gets individual attention, but all pilots in the area get the same information and can react to it offensively or defensively.
- Close or Tactical Control
- Under close control the duty of the controller usually is to direct the pilots into a tactically advantageous position to attack or identify a target. In order to accomplish this task, the controller generally must monitor the positions of the fighters and the target. He then transmits relative range and bearing of the target to the fighters, and he may dictate or recommend (depending on philosophy) intercept headings, speeds, altitudes, etc. The primary purpose of the controller in this scenario is to position the fighters favorably so that the pilots can acquire the target, either visually or with their own self-contained sensors, facilitating identification or attack. If identification of an unknown contact is the purpose, the pilots may be required to perform either a visual identification or an electronic identification (EID), using onboard equipment. Depending on the outcome of the identification,the fighters may then be cleared by the controller (or by prearrangement) to attack a hostile target, but final attack procedures should be left to the pilots. During the close-control intercept process, the controller is also responsible for advising the pilots of any additional contacts that might pose a threat or that might be of higher attack priority than the original target.
Loneship will use the „Broadcast Control“ with a Bullseye as reference point for positional information.
Example: „Loneship, (Type of Group), Bullseye 320, 50, 22 thousand, track north east, bogey“
Explanation: Loneship informs everyone that there is a (type of Group*) at Bullseye radial 320, 50 NM at 22 thousand feet, its track is North East and all ID criterias for „Bogey“ are met.
*A „group“ is an imagined box of 3NM x 3NM. Anything inside this box belongs to this group. It doesn’t matter how many radar contacts are inside this box. Anything inside this 3x3NM box is called „group“. One such single box is called „single group“ and two or more groups are either „two, three, four etc. groups“ or „multiple groups“. And for certain patterns of two or more groups there are certain group labels:
With this tactical picture, Loneship doesn’t address anyone specifically but everyone in the area and both CAP flights have to interpret the picture as fast as possible to determine the situation (situational awareness). One of the training tasks in this mission is, that after each of these tactical pictures, each CAP Flight replies with either „(Callsign) hot“ or „(Callsign) cold“ depending on whether the group(s) mentioned in the picture are a potential threat to the island or not.
As long as no threat appears in the immediate vicinity (inside the Weapon Engagement Zone (WEZ)) no engagements on own discretion are allowed. Loneship instructs Intercepts (for IFF interrogation and/or identification) or Engagements when the situation requires it (depending on ROE and SPINS).
The two main tasks in this training mission are:
- Correct interpretation of tactical pictures (with correct response)
- Correct behavior at Interception or Engagement (BVR)
You can of course also request something at any time (e.g. „declare“).
Below you can see the so-called „Bulleye Reference Card“ (aka Spider Card). The to be protected high value asset (island) is the center point. The bullseye is the VOR/DME Helgoland (DHE) on 110X on 116.30 which is located on the island.
After termination at the very end we do a rejoin and go RTB. Loneship will let us rejoin our flight plan route.
Transponder mode 3 at the beginning according to local operating procedures and later in the area according to Loneship.
Our primary Navaid and Bullseye during the actual mission is the Helgoland VOR/DME on 110X on 116.30. Secondary is Wittmund Tacan on 82X on 113.50. Emergency divert airfield during the actual mission is Wittmund (ETNT) 40 nm south west of the area.
To the area itself. We use several contiguously active danger areas. As these are danger areas, they are not blocked/closed even during activation, which is why special attention must be paid to civil VFR traffic at lower altitudes under FL100. Usually, however, it is very quiet up there and we can operate undisturbed. Loneship provides traffic infos. Our profile is H-H-H (High-High-High) which means that we ingress high, remain high during the point defense mission and egress high. Expect FL240.
Cruise speed default 330 KIAS. Joker is at 3500 lbs and Bingo at 2500.
Loadout for the training mission is up to the Flight Lead. Possibly external tanks, targeting pod, Jammer (ECM), Chaff/Flare (CM), active radar guided missiles (e.g. AIM-120 AMRAAM) and IR guided missiles (e.g. AIM-9 Sidewinder) but training missiles only. ACMI on own discretion.
There are no NOTAMs that would be important to us.
Flight plan is up to the Flight Lead but include a DIC for Germany (DIC DE EUAT 2018) at item 18 of the FPL.