This guide has been compiled using several US military procedure documents. It has been compressed and simplified in order to standardize rotary wing CAS on United Operations. This document uses real life methods with some discrepancies in order to be most effective on Arma. Because most missions include JTACs to control rotary wing aircraft, the methods below are most similar to the usage of rotary wing CAS by USAF JTACs.
This guide is an attempt to explain how to coordinate and effectively use rotary wing attack aircraft. While we have many courses and lessons dedicated to fixed wing CAS, there is a clear lack of proper protocol and procedure when it comes to the use of rotary wing attack aircraft. Note that this is not a guide on how to fly attack helicopters, but rather the overall scheme of rotary wing CAS, and the procedure for calling rotary wing fire missions.
Types of Missions
Rotary wing attack aircraft can be used for four different purposes: reconnaissance, security, attack, and movement to contact. It is important to understand the difference between these tasks in order to most support maneuver forces and utilize the aircraft to perform missions.
Pushing ahead of friendly elements to scout out terrain or possible enemy positions in order to support maneuver forces and provide intelligence to the ground force commander. In a reconnaissance mission, an aircraft will be given an area to search or a route to check. Similar to a movement to contact with the exception that the intent is to gather intelligence, not to destroy enemy targets, although the mission commander may request that the aircraft does engage.
Moving with maneuver forces in order to protect them from attack. Aircraft will engage defensively at targets that present a danger to maneuver forces and scout out routes for maneuver forces. In a security mission, there is not a lot of communication needed between the aircrew and the ground forces. After the aircrew has identified friendly forces and confirmed the location of all friendly forces, they can monitor the element's radio net and engage targets that they come into contact from.
Engaging and attempting to destroy enemy targets of opportunity in support of maneuver forces on the ground. Attack missions require someone on the ground to be in communication with the aircraft. When the controller finds a target to engage, he will send the aircraft a CAS brief (see below).
Movement to Contact:
Maneuvering to engage and attempt to destroy enemy targets of opportunity independent of other forces on the ground. In a movement to contact, the aircraft will operate independently after being assigned a zone to clear. When the aircraft spots targets, they will alert the mission commander or controller, who will ensure they are not friendly forces, and then let the aircraft know they are clear to engage.
Airspace Control Measures
Rotary wing aircraft does not require the same control points needed for fixed wing CAS. In fact, rotary wing aircraft do not require any control points whatsoever. Depending on the type of mission and the tasking of the aircraft, the designation of two types of rotary wing control points, holding areas (HAs) and battle positions (BPs), are optional.
A holding area is an area used by helicopters awaiting targets or missions. HAs provide rotary wing aircraft a place to loiter. They may be established during the planning or operational phase of the mission. A holding area is useful if the tasking for the aircraft is to attack targets engaged by maneuver forces. This is a place to stand-by away from the AO until the aircraft can be called in. A holding area is usually 1km by 1km for one aircraft and 2km by 2km for two aircraft, although in Arma we can restrict this to 1km by 1km.
A battle position is a maneuvering area for the aircraft to engage targets on the ground. A BP is a location where aircraft can literally hide behind a large terrain feature, such as a mountain, gain altitude, engage targets, and then dip back down into cover. A BP can, like an HA, be established during the planning or operational phase. A BP is useful if the intent for the aircraft is ABF or SBF. A BP is essentially just the air equivalent of a BOF position.
A BP will contain several pop up points (PUPs) where the terrain is most advantageous to engage from. Like a tank doing berm drills, the aircraft will move up in the PUP, engage targets, and then dip back down behind cover before they are attacked. BPs are mostly used in situations where the enemy has air defenses or heavy weapons which can damage aircraft. They are usually 1-5km from the target depending on aircraft type and situation.
A 5-line is the standard call for fire for rotary wing attack aircraft. It is transmitted in one part. The aircrew will read back only the restrictions.
1. Observer/Warning Order/Game Plan
"[AIRCRAFT C/S], this is [OBSERVER C/S], 5-line,
[TYPE OF CONTROL (1, 2, or 3)]
[MOA (BOT or BOC); BOT = engaging a target/BOC = engaging coordinates]
2. Friendly Location/Mark
"My position [GRID, TRP, ETC.] marked by [STROBE, SMOKE, PANEL, ETC.]"
3. Target Location
"Target location [GRID, DIRECTION&DISTANCE, TRP, ETC.]"
4. Target Description/Mark
"[TARGET DESC] marked by [IR POINTER, TRACERS, ETC.]"
"[FINAL ATTACK HEADING]
Transmission of the 5-line is not clearance to fire. The aircraft must be cleared to release ordnance by a JTAC. The CAS aircraft should push immediately after receiving the 5-line.
Rotary Wing Aircraft Check In:
1. Aircraft composition and location
3. Equipment (TI/NV/etc.)
4. Station time
Example Check In:
A/C: "Broadsword 14, this is Gunshot 33, on station 0600 local, say when ready for check in."
JTAC: "Gunshot 33, this is Broadsword 14, send your check in."
A/C: "Gunshot 33 is one AH-64 at HA Zulu, full gun and 6 x AGM-114K Hellfire missiles, TI and NV, station time 45 minutes."
JTAC: "Broadsword 14 copies, one AH-64 at HA Zulu, full cannon and 6 x AGM-114K Hellfire missiles, TI and NV, station time 45 minutes, abort is in the clear."
Example 1 (extensive):
JTAC: "Gunshot 33, this is Broadsword 14, 5-line, type 2, BOT, guns, my position is 012345 marked by IR strobe, target location is Rasheed Hotel top floor east most window single heavy machine gun marked by tracers, make all attacks over my left shoulder, with right pulls off target, keep all effects of fires west of MSR Clovis."
A/C: "Gunshot 33 copies, over your left shoulder, right pulls, keep all effects of fires west of MSR Clovis, pushing."
JTAC: "Gunshot 33 continue."
A/C: "Gunshot 33 tally target, in 310."
JTAC: "Gunshot 33 cleared hot."
Example 2 (simple):
JTAC: "Gunshot 33, this is Broadsword 14, 5-line, type 1, BOT, guns, my position is 012345 marked by smoke, target location is 0123458, single technical in the open."
A/C: "Gunshot 33 copies, pushing."
JTAC: "Gunshot 33 continue."
A/C: "Gunshot 33 tally target, in from the west."
JTAC: "Gunshot 33 cleared hot."
1. JFIRE, Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Joint Application of Firepower
2. JP 3-09.3, Close Air Support
3. CTC No. 00-9, Close Combat Attack
4. FM 3-04.126, Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter Operations
Edited by Albatross, 2013-05-06 @ 14:14.