Updated last in Jan 2021
With thanks to Shaddowlinkk and Kreeper and Oirien for their previous guides and to Tomo, SilberJojo and Hyxogen for advice and checking
This guide aims to convey all information required to be a JTAC or Pathfinder during any FK mission. It will describe and explain the basics of being the link between the infantry in the air. Here you will find the Theory that you need to control any Aircraft and to conduct strikes on enemy positions and elements.
Table of Contents:
c. Alternative JTAC
c. Transport (Paradrops)
d. Hostile Air
- Target Priorization
- Map Reading and Usage of Map Tools
- Types of Anti-Air and their capabilities
a. Setting up your radio
b. ROE/Weapons status
c. Brevity Codes
- Suggested/Required FAC Equipment
The Pathfinder’s job is to provide the platoon with favourable LZs and DZs, be it for infantry or resupply so that the platoon can continue with their objectives in a speedy manner. The Pathfinder operates on 3 separate radio nets and in proximity voice chat (more on this in the comms section).
This is the traditional FAC role. The JTAC’s role is to support the infantry with CAS to the best of their aircraft’s abilities. The JTAC is attached to the Plt HQ, and operates on 68, 69 (LR) and 160 (SR).
1.c. JTAC (Asset):
A JTAC team’s job is to support the infantry with CAS (close-air-support) to the best of their aircraft’s ability, while minimising the risk of friendly fire. The JTAC team consists of the lead/senior officer (a JTAC tagholder) and an assistant (a Prophet spotter tagholder). Together they operate on three separate radio nets and in proximity voice chat (more on this in the comms section) and separated as its own element. The JTAC team is a separate element from Platoon.
If the JTAC team is used, a JTAC is not required within the Platoon element itself.
The roles and responsibilities of the team are:
- Directly manage the aircraft, and call for strikes as well as request reconnaissance from the birds.
- Will primarily use 68 (LR) and proximity chat for communications.
- Is the go between for the Senior Officer and the infantry Platoon
- Will use 69 (LR) and proximity chat for communications.
The Pathfinder is part of the PltHQ squad and thus should stay close to the PltLeader, creating LZs and DZs when requested. Being a critical role in the platoon, the Pathfinder should play it safe.
For anyone who has played the old FAC role (before November 2020) the playstyle has not changed.
A JTAC team's primary concern is to assist the platoon in their objective(s). The Platoon-Leader may make a request to the JTAC Team, similar to how currently they would make a request to the old FAC. The JTAC team will try to comply to the best of their and their pilot’s and aircraft’s ability. A few examples of such requests:
- “I request you to cripple the enemies' C2C capabilities within OBJ Whiskey”
- “I request you to destroy any armor rolling down routes Theta and Gamma”
- “I request you to cripple QRF coming from the east of OBJ Washington”
- “I request you sitting on high point 126 watching east and north, taking out anything armored”
- “I request you moving with Alpha squad to their OW to soften up the compound according to their needs, before they move in”
- “I request you to move with the HQ element to a vantage point, softening up the town before the infantry move in”
During the briefing, the JTAC team should clearly discuss the rules of engagements with the platoon leader.
The JTAC element is not a recon element like Prophet is. However they are encouraged to detach from the PLTHQ-squad to get eyes onto their objective or otherwise position themselves to conduct strikes and minimise the risk associated with them. Therefore the JTAC element should ideally be in SR comms range of the PltHQ or closer during the entirety of the mission. Additionally if you are uncomfortable moving alone you can always stick close to another friendly element in the platoon.
3. Fixed Wing
The following section will contain information concerning Fixed Wing control and Strikes. There will also be information about controlling a paradrop.
A Fixed Wing Aircraft on Standby will usually have a Racetrack or an Orbit assigned to it. These will be used depending on threats to the Aircraft in any given AO. An Orbit around an Objective is very beneficial for spotting and engaging targets, however the risk of being engaged by Anti-Air (AA) is very high. A Racetrack can will be used in those situations and is also a solid default to fall back on. They can have any shape, but will mostly be ovals. Both Orbits and Racetracks should have indicators of direction on them, to avoid in flight accidents.
Strikes can be conducted on a multitude of targets. Be it stationary emplacements, tanks, clusters of infantry, buildings or IFVs, the aircraft’s security should always be your top priority. Your second priority is reducing the risk of friendly fire to a minimum. This is why we use an extensive, standardized 6-Line system. The 6-Line is preceded by a gameplan.
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 clear and cincise as possible. The elements of the game plan are the type of control, the method of attack and the type of ammunition to be used.
Types of control:
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. These measures can for example be Blufor Tracking or communications with friendlies.
Type 3: FAC will utilize other measures (not direct visual contact) to mitigate risk of friendly fire, while permitting multiple attacks in one engagement. These measures can for example be Blufor Tracking or communications with friendlies.
Method of attack:
Bombs on Target: Aircrew is required to visually acquire (“tally”) the target.
Bombs on Coordinates: Ordnance is employed on a specified set of coordinates. These coordinates can be given either as a grid mark or through other methods such as laser designation or GPS targeting.
The final part of the game plan entails which ammunition(s) the aircraft is to employ.
The FK standard CAS 6-Line follows this format.
- IP/BP (ingress point)
- Target description (e.g. 2 squads of EI, 3x T80, etc.)
- Target location (grid coords, visual cues, map markers)
- Mark (Laser, IR laser, smoke, flare, etc.)
- Nearest Friendlies (Distance estimate to nearest friendlies)
- 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 Nap of Earth (NoE) due to AA threats, specific ordnance 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 Lines 2, 3 and 5, unless the FAC requests a full readback. They should then call out when they see, what you want them to see, to which you then would call “cleared hot” or “wave off”. A wave off or abort order can be used for a number of reasons.
An example of a 6-Line is included below.
FAC: Raptor this is FAC advise when ready for Gameplan, over.
Raptor: Raptor, ready for gameplan, over.
FAC: Type 1, Bombs on Coordinates, one times Hellfire, over.
Raptor: Type 1, Bombs on Coordinates, one times Hellfire, over.
FAC: Good readback, advise when ready for 6-line, over.
Raptor: Ready for 6-line, over.
IP Gold (References IP or BP for the pilot to use)
One T-80 MBT (What is the target?)
Map marker “T-80’s here” (Where is the target?)
Laser Designator on target.(how do the pilots know where to shoot?)
Friendlies 150 meters east (Where are the nearest friendlies?)
Egress east (How do you want the bird to leave after the attack?)
The pilot would then read this back, and the FAC would make any corrections and additional comments.
FAC: Backbrief correct, report IP inbound
The net should now be awaiting Raptor's call:
Raptor: Crossing IP.
FAC: Laze on deck (announcing that the lazer is on target. The Designator should be on the target, once the aircraft is on it’s way to the IP and should be turned off after the ammunition hit or missed the target)
Raptor: "Spot" or "No Joy" (For seen lazers call out "spot"; For visually acquired targets call out "tally"; If any of these are not seen call "no joy")
FAC: Cleared Hot/ Wave Off
Raptor: “Rifle” (Brevity Code according to ammunition released)
FAC: Bomb Damage Assessment (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.)
Repeating a strike:
This might be necessary, if the ammunition did not hit the target or if the target is armoured and resisted the first strike. A radio call for a repeat of a strike is initiated by the word “Repeat” accompanied by the Aircraft’s callsign. E.g.: "Raptor, from FAC, repeat repeat, over"
One alternative way of conducting strikes, is to use killboxes. Reference the strikes section in rotary for more details.
It is also possible to allow strikes, when the pilot has spotted a target themselves. Get the target's location, ensure no friendlies are near (or inform the aircraft of friendly positions, if they are) and clear them hot afterwards.
3.c. Transport (Paradrop)
Sometimes it is necessary to deploy infantry (and vehicles or other assets) into the AO via parachuting. This will mostly be done by a big fixed wing aircraft like a C-130 transport plane.
3.d. Hostile Air
Should your Jets encounter an aircraft whose identity is unknown, they should announce a “Bogey” on the Net. If an aircraft is identified as hostile, it is called a “Bandit”.
A FAC should abort all ongoing strikes on ground targets and let the jets work together to destroy all hostile air targets. Once this is achieved they should announce “Grandslam” on the net.
4. Rotary Wing
The following section will contain all information regarding rotary wing assets.
There are essentially three types of airspace (AO) 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 the FAC more control as they are always aware of the aircraft’s movements. These airspaces should be marked on the map as depicted. Note that AOs should only be used in conjunction with Rotary Wing Aircraft. Fixed Wings are too fast to be controlled in that way.
In a FAC controlled airspace aircraft do not have permission to enter, land or engage targets unless given explicit permission by FAC.
In a Visually Controlled airspace FAC, the first aircraft or the 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.
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 common 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 for your AOs that contain enemy objectives and are clearly marked with all the pertinent information for your pilots such as AA presence and uncontrolled airspace is everything in between.
While AO's control the aircraft's movements, battlepoints can be employed to control their exact position. A battlepoint is any point on the map, marked by FAC. They are used to scout and engage from. Attack Helicopters such as the AH-64 Apache Gunship work incredibly well, when utilizing battlepoints. BPs should be located either behind cover (mountain ranges, hills etc.) or be out of range of the enemy's Anti Air capabilites.
Close Air Support (CAS) strikes can be done in three ways. The most common one is a standardized 4-Line. This is basically a reduced 6-Line without a gameplan.
1. The 4-Line:
- Target Description
- Target Location
- Position of nearest friendlies
- Ammunition to be used
FAC: “Raptor this is FAC, tasking, over”
Raptor: “Send tasking, over”
FAC: “Strike, one BTR, at Grid 123456, friendlies are 150m North, use Cannon, readback, over”
Raptor: “BTR, at 123456, friendlies 150m North, Cannon, over”
FAC: “Good readback, proceed”
In the above example the Raptor element has free reign of their position during the engagement. If you want them to be in a specific position, you can add that as a fifth line during your briefing along with any other important information such as AA presence.
Another way to conduct strikes, is to provide the aircraft with a “killbox”, which is marked on the map or specified in another clear way. One could for example label a road as “MSR Ohio” and tell the aircraft to engage any hostile on that road in between two known points (two towns maybe). However make sure the pilots tell you about what they see, engage and destroy.
3. Squad's Short Range Frequency
As a third way the pilots can use a squad’s SR to communicate directly with the troops on the ground. To use this method, tell a pilot to “hop onto” a squad’s short range frequency to provide CAS to them directly. This method needs to be used with caution, since the risk of friendly firing another squad is relatively high.
Methods of striking a target:
1. Bob-Up amounts to finding an adequate piece of cover - a building, a hill, a mountain - and hovering behind it, then ascending and acquiring targets, then descending and prioritizing targets, and finally ascending again to engage targets. Hence the term 'bob-up' - bobbing up and down behind cover to acquire and engage. The aim is to minimize exposure to hostile fire and detection.
2. Running fire is a term used to describe cannon and rocket attacks. In running fire, an initial point is set to attack from along with an exit point to break away. The vector between the two points is the direction of attack and between these two points rocket and cannon fire is used as rapidly as possible. It is typically performed at a high speed, hence the term 'running fire'. This enables a quick engagement with inaccurate area weapons and suppresses enemy forces. It is not effective at destroying targets, but it is effective to minimize exposure to enemy fire while simultaneously restricting their movements. It is best performed with multiple aircraft as the following aircraft can trail behind the first and suppress enemy forces engaging the lead aircraft.
In missions it is often necessary to transport forces, supplies, POWs or civilians by Air. For these kinds of missions transport helicopters are used. These can range from the small, nimble Littlebird, over MI-8s over to the biggest Helicopters like Merlins.
Landing Zones (LZs): An LZ is a designated area marked on the map. The pilot will attempt to landt here, by approaching the LZ and determining if it is possible to do so. Presence of hostiles, power cables, buildings, trees or unfavourable terrain can prevent a successful landing. As a FAC it is your job to work together with your pilots to find a suitable LZ.
The properties of a good LZ include:
- Safe approach
- Cover from hostiles on the LZ itself
- In close proximity to the objective (decrease infantry walking distance)
- favourable terrain (no slopes, trees etc.)
A perfect LZ exhibits all of the above properties. Sadly these LZs don’t often exist and compromises have to be made. In these cases Aircraft security takes precedence.
Different methods can be used depending on wether infantry has to be infilled or exfilled. During infill, additionally to simply landing and dismounting, the infantry can also jump into water or fast rope onto a surface. Pinnacle landings are also possible.
Talk to the pilots and ascertain, if they are comfortable with the given LZs. Never make a Pilot land on an LZ they are not confident in.
When exfilling infantry make sure the aircraft only lands, once the LZ has been secured by a squad. Helicopters are the most vulnerable, when they are on the ground, which is why that time should be minimised. To achieve this, use a Hold Point (HP) near the designated LZ and wait for a Squad to call in a secured LZ. Only then send the aircraft in to land.
Additionally it is possible to parachute from Helicopters.
5. 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.
6. Map Reading and usage of Map Tools
The map is probably the most important tool available to FACs on our servers. This is why it is important to know how gridlines and map tools work. Reference Badger’s guide for map reading. Map Tools can be grabbed from the arsenal. When you open the map, use ace interaction to “show map tools”. They can be dragged around and also rotated by holding or ctrl and then dragging the map tools.
To pinpoint an exact location, which you can see, on the map, you need to know your own position, the range and the bearing to the target location.
First pinpoint your own location, by using a GPS and placing a dot on the map. Then align yourself with the target and use a rangefinder or SOFLAM to get the range. Open your map and ace interact to “align map tools with compass”. Place the beginning of the ruler onto your own position and find the range on the map tools. Place a marker at the target’s range. You now have marked the exact position of a location you can see.
Doing this without a GPS is harder, since you need to use the terrain and it’s features to ascertain your own position.
7. 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
- 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
- Ducking behind terrain (see Battlepoints)
- 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)]
- 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
- 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):
- Max. Range 1 Km
- Dangerous, if close, especially against unarmoured Aircraft
- Avoid by: Speed, Distance
- Includes: Technicals, Static Guns, Guns mounted on Armour
- Max. Range 500m
- Dangerous to single systems in unarmoured Aircraft
- Avoid by: Speed, Distance,
- All Handheld Weapons
- Everything smaller than a .50 cal
- Max. Range 600m
- Dangerous only if you land right in front of them or you are stationaryin the air
As the link between the air and the ground you will be required to operate on multiple long range nets and the Platoon short range net. You need to be on 69 to be able to quickly identify threats, targets and talk to the Squads to conduct CAS-strikes or coordinate pickups etc. 68 is the net, on which you talk to the pilots.
8.a. Setting up your radio:
This will be a quick step-by-step guide on how to set up your radios. First go to frequency 69 on channel 1 and click the button to make it an "additional channel". The display should now show "CA1: 69" instead of "CH1: 69". Click your stereo settings button to put that channel onto your left ear. Now go to frequency 68 on channel 2 and use your stereo button again, to put this one onto your right ear. Now lower the volume of your short range radio a bit and make sure it is set to both ears.
This way might not work for you. Try out whatever you need to and figure out what works for you. Above is just how I have my radios set up.
8.b. ROE/Weapons status:
Currently, the weapons status standard everywhere in FK is as follows:
GREEN: Cleared to engage
ORANGE: Do not fire unless fired upon
RED: Do not fire
We as FAC trainers found this standard too limiting for some situations. This is why, we are following the Multiservice Tactical Brevity Code definition:
FREE: at targets not identified as friendly
TIGHT: at targets positively identified as hostile
HOLD: in self-defense or in response to a formal order.
SAFE: never fire
8.c. Brevity Codes:
Brevity Codes are standardized phrases used by both Pilots and FACs (and other raio operators). They aim to convey complex information with one or only few words.
The following will be a list of commonly used brevity codes regarding Air in FK.
Unit or element will be performing exactly as stated by the air tasking order (ATO).
All hostile aircraft of which a mission was tasked against are shot down.
Minimum fuel state needed for aircraft to return to base.
No ordnance remaining, can be used to refer to specific types ordnance or all ordnance.
A radar or visual air contact whose identity is unknown.
A contact identified as enemy.
A positively identified friendly contact.
Ordnance release is authorized.
Continue present maneuver; does not imply clearance to engage or expend ordnance. (I.e. used in a response to a pilot crossing an IP)
An emergency fire control order used to stop firing on a designated target, to include destruction of any missiles in flight.
Do not open fire and/or discontinue firing; complete intercept if weapons are in flight; continue to track.
Simulated/actual launch of air-to-air weapons.
ONE - semiactive radar-guided missile, such as an AIM-7 Sparrow or Skyflash.
TWO - infrared-guided missile, such as an AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-132 ASRAAM.
THREE - active radar-guided missile, such as an AIM-120 AMRAAM or AIM-54 Phoenix.
Guns, Guns, Guns
Indicating fire of Cannon.
Release of laser-guided bomb or bombs.
Friendly air-to-ground missile launch.
Launch of friendly anti-radiation missile (such as AGM-88 HARM, ALARM).
Pickle (Not official, but used in FK)
Release of bomb or bombs (esp. unguided)
Two or more munitions released or fired in close succession.
Aircrew does not have visual contact with the target/bandit/landmark; opposite of tally.
Sighting of a target, bandit, bogey, or enemy position; opposite of no joy
Acquisition of laser designation.
Sighting of a friendly aircraft/ground position; opposite of blind.
No visual contact with friendly aircraft/ground position; opposite of visual.
9. Suggested/Required FAC Equipment
- Long Range Radio
- Laser Designator (SOFLAM [Get Zeus Permission] Suggested + batteries)
- IR Laser attachment
- Coloured Smoke
- Underslung Grenade Launcher + Smokes
- Map Tools
- Tracer Ammunition
Should a zeus have a mission with CAS capable assets, a JTAC Team can also be used as an Asset. If the Zeus requests the JTAC team, this will typically replace the FAC within the Plt Element. However if there are transport helicopters in the mission as well, it is suggested to have a dedicated pathfinder that will be attached to the platoon.
- Senior Officer: JTAC tagholders -> Regs+
- Junior Officer: Prophet Spotter Tagholder -> Regs+
- Pathfinder slots JTAC & Pathfinder tagholders -> Reg+
This results in JTACs being able to slot first into JTAC slots. JTACs and Pathfinders will be able to slot into Pathfinder slots at the same time. Similar to how a Tank Commander Tag Holder may slot into a gunner slot at the same time as a Gunner Tag Holder.
If you have any questions regarding any information in this guide, feel free to shoot either @Garfield or @LurkerOne a message.