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Fighter Brevity

Posted by Jolly on August 19, 2012


I was really surprised when this Kadena F-15 video came out that it was unclassified.  The comm you hear in the background is real and accurate, and the video even includes tones from the Radar Warning Receiver.  I always thought that was all classified, so I googled "Fighter Brevity Code" and got the following below.  

Here's another look at the video and I'll include the code below for those of you unfamiliar with the brevity codes being used in the video.  One word can mean a lot in an air-to-air engagement.  There's just not enough time on the radio to use CB Trucker Comm in a fight that may only last 30 seconds.  That's not to say that CB comm has never been used before.  Some of these are dated and would never be used.  I don't know of a fighter pilot in his right mind who would ever say "Box" or "Head" on the radio!  That would require an immediate response from your wingman "Head, who said Head, I'll take some of that!"  Obviously, the proper terms would be "Container" or "Cranium."

Feel free to include any War stories that you may have of non-standard comm saving the day.  One of my favorites is when Kluso made his famous call "Hey, all you guys come out of burner" before swacking a MiG-25 in Iraq 1.  So enjoy the video with the captain midnight decoder below.   This video is just too cool to not post again!

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The following are two lists of operational brevity words and terms to provide common understanding and minimize radio transmissions while executing tactics described in this manual. This common understanding, however, is dependent on the following rules of engagement:

- These lists are not all inclusive.

- Use plain English when required.

- Words listed below should be used in lieu of words or phrases with similar definitions.

- When a flight lead makes directive calls, the wingman must respond with the directed action to the best of his ability.

- If the wingman uses a "directive" term/word, it is a request and the flight lead reserves the right to approve/deny the wingman's requested action.

Allied nations may have different meanings for some of the terms/words listed here (reference ACP 165). They are indicated by an asterisk (*) behind the term/word.


ABORT - Directive to cease action/attack/event/mission.

ACTION - Directive to initiate a briefed attack sequence or maneuver.

ALPHA CHECK - Request for bearing and range to described point.

ANCHOR - Orbit about a specific point; ground track flown by tanker. Information call indicates a turning engagement about a specific location.

ANGELS - Height of aircraft in thousands of feet.

APEX/ALAMO - Training term used to denote simulated launch of enemy, all-aspect radar missile.

APHID/ARCHER Training term used to denote simulated launch of enemy heat seeking missiles.

ARM/ARMED (Safe/Hot) - Select armament (safe/hot), or armament is safe/hot.

AS FRAGGED - Fighter, FAC, mission package, or agency will be performing exactly as stated by the air tasking order.

ASPECT - Request/comment regarding target aspect information.

ATTACK/ATTACKING() - Indicates air-to-surface attack on a specific ground target.

AUTHENTICATE() - To request or provide a response for a coded challenge.

AUTONOMOUS - Aircrew is operating without benefit of GCI/AWACS control.

BANDIT(Radar/Heat/Striker) - Known enemy aircraft and type ordnance capability, if known.

BASE (Number) - Reference number used to indicate such information as headings, altitudes, fuels, etc.

BEAM/BEAMER (Direction) - Aircraft maneuvering stabilized within 700 to 1100 aspect; generally given with cardinal directions: east, west, north, south.

BELLYCHECK - A momentary unloaded bank to check the blind side of a turning aircraft.

()BENT - Identified system inoperative.

BINGO - Prebriefed fuel state which is needed for recovery using prebriefed parameters.

BLIND - No visual contact with friendly aircraft; opposite of term "VISUAL."

BLOWTHROUGH - Directive/informational call that indicates aircraft will continue straight ahead at the merge and not turn with target/targets.

BOGEY - A radar/visual contact whose identity is unknown.

BOGEY DOPE/DOPE - Request for target information as briefed/available.

BONE - Term used to indicate the formation will remain in a Racetrack-type holding pattern (with all wingmen's tums into lead); exit formation must be specified by lead.

BOX - Groups/contacts/formations in a square or offset square.

BRACKET - Indicates geometry where aircraft will maneuver to a position on opposing sides either laterally or vertically from the target.

BREAK (Up/Down/Right/Left) - Directive to perform an immediate maximum performance turn in the indicated direction. Assumes a defensive situation.

BREVITY - Term used to denote radio frequency is becoming saturated/degraded and briefer transmissions must follow.

BROADCAST - Request/directive to switch to Broadcast Control.

BROKE LOCK - Loss of radar/IR lock-on (advisory).

BUDDY SPIKE (Position/Azimuth/Altitude) - Receiving friendly AI RWR.

BUGOUT (Direction)Separation from that particular engagement/attack; no intent to reengage.

BULLSEYE - An established reference point from which the position of an aircraft can be determined.

BUMP/BUMP-UP - A fly-up to acquire line of sight to the target or laser designation.

BUNT - A pushover maneuver.

BURNER - Directive to select/deselect afterburner.

BUZZER - Electronic communications jamming.

CAP/CAP(Location) - An orbit at a specified location. Establish a combat air patrol at (location).

CHAFF - Call indicating chaff has been detected or to deploy chaff.

CHAMPAGNE - An attack of three distinct groups with two in front and one behind. The leading two groups are attempting to bracket with the trailing third group flying up the middle.

CHATTERMARK - Begin using briefed radio procedures to counter comm jamming.

CHECK ( ) - A directive statement made to momentarily monitor (specified items/systems).No response is required if status is normal.

CHECK ( Left/ Right) - Turn ( ) degrees left/right and maintain new heading.

CHICKS - Friendly fighter aircraft.

CHRISTMAS TREE - Directive to briefly turn on exterior lights to enable visual acquisition.

CIRCLE (RIGHT/LEFT) - Flight-lead-directed defensive maneuver in which the flight establishes a circular holding pattern for mutual support.

CLEAN - No radar contacts; used to confirm a good battle damage check (i.e., no air-to-surface ordnance remaining on the wingman's aircraft).

CLEARED - Requested action is authorized (no engaged/support roles are assumed).

CLEARED DRY - Ordnance release not authorized.

CLEARED HOT - Ordnance release is authorized.

CLOSING - Bandit/bogey/target is getting closer in range.

COLD - In context; attack geometry will result in a pass or roll out behind the target; or, on a leg of the CAP pointed away from the anticipated threats. Air-to-surface, dry or no-ordnance attack.

COMEBACK (Left/Right) - Directive to reverse course.

COMEOFF (Left/Right/High/Low/Dry) - A directive to maneuver as indicated to either regain mutual support or to deconflict flight paths for an exchange of engaged and supporting roles. Implies both "visual" and "tally."

COMMITTED/COMMIT - Fighter intent to engage/intercept; weapons director (WD) continues to provide information.

CONTACT - Radar/IR contact at the stated position; should be in bearing, range, altitude (BRA), Bullseye, or geographic position format.

CONTINUE - Continue present maneuver; does not imply clearance to engage or expend ordnance.

COVER - Directive to assume briefed support position and responsibilities.

CRANK (Direction) - F-Pole maneuver; implies illuminating target at radar gimbal limits.

CROSS TURN/CROSS - A 1800 heading reversal by a flight where aircraft turn into each other.

CUTOFF - Request for, or directive to, intercept using cutoff geometry.

DEADEYE Informative call by an airborne laser designator indicating the laser is inoperative.

DEFENSIVE (Spike/Missle/SAM/Mud/AAA) - Aircraft is in a defensive position and maneuvering with reference to the stated condition. If no condition stated maneuvering is with respect to A/A threat.

DEPLOY - Directive for the flight to maneuver to briefed positioning.

DIVERT - Proceed to alternate mission/base.

DOLLY - Data link equipment

DRAG/DRAGGING (Direction) - Bogey/Bandit maneuvering to 60 degor less aspect.

ECHELON (Cardinaldirection) - Groups/contacts/formation with wingman displaced approximately 45 deg behind leader's wing line.

ELEMENT - Formation of two aircraft.

ENGAGED - Maneuvering with the intent of achieving a kill. If no additional information is provided (bearing, range, etc.), ENGAGED implies visual/radar acquisition of target

ESTIMATE - Using information available to provide data required, implies degradation.

EXTEND (Direction) Directive to gain energy and distance with the possible intent of reengaging.

EYEBALL - Fighter with primary visual identification responsibility.

FADED - Previous radar contact is lost

FAST - Target speed is estimated to be 600 knots ground mach 1 or greater.

FEET WET/DRY - Flying over water/land.

FENCE - Boundary separating hostile and friendly area.

FENCE CHECK - Set cockpit switches as appropriate.

FLANK/FLANKING - Target with a stable aspect of 120 deg. to 150 deg.

FLARES - Flares have been detected or directive to deploy flares.

FLASH (MODE) - Temporary activation of IFF transponder on desired mode/code.

FLOAT - Directive/informative to expand the formation laterally within visual limits to maintain a radar contact or prepare for a defensive response.

FOLLOW DOLLY - Follow data-link commands.

FOX - Air-to-air weapons employment.

FOX ONE - Simulated/actual launch of radar-guided missile.

FOX TWO - Simulated/actual launch of infrared-guided missile.

FOX THREE - Simulated/actual launch of AMRAAM/Phoenix missile.

FOX FOUR - Bomber gunner has simulated firing on a target.

FOX MIKE - VHF/FM radio.

FURBALL - A turning fight involving multiple aircraft.

GADGET - Fire control radar.

GIMBAL (Direction) - Radar target is approaching azimuth or elevation limits.

GO ACTIVE - Go to briefed Have Quick net.

GO SECURE - Activate secure voice communications.

GORILLA - Large force of indeterminable numbers and formation.

GREEN (Direction) - Direction determined to be clearest of enemy air-to-air activity.

GROUP - Radar target(s) within approximately 3 NM of each other.

GUN (Direction) - Visual acquisition of gunfire, AAA site, or AAA fire.

GUNS - An air-to-air or air-to-surface gunshot.

HARD (Direction) - High-G, energy sustaining turn.

HEAD - Target with an aspect of 160 deg. to 180 deg.

HEADS DOWN - Call to infom aircrew that leader/wingman is head-down in the cockpit and wingman/leader is responsible for clearing.

HEADS UP (Direction/Altitude) - Enemy/bogey got through; no kill.

HIGH - Target above 30,000 feet MSL.c

HIT - Radar return in search (A/A). Weapons impact within lethal distance (air-to-ground [A/G]).

HOLD DOWN - Directive to key transmitter for DF steer.

HOLDING HANDS - Aircraft in visual formation.

HOME PLATE - Home airfield.

HOOK (Left/Right) - Directive to perform an in-place 180 deg. turn.

HOT - In context; attack geometry will result in rollout in front of the target; or on a leg of the CAP pointing toward the anticipated threats (A/A). Ordnance employment authorized, expected, or completed (A/G).

HOTEL FOX - HF radio.

HOUND DOG - Informative call from support fighter to engaged fighter within visual arena that a shot opportunity exists. Implies tally/visual.

ID - Directive to intercept and identify the target; also aircrew ID accomplished, followed by type aircraft.

IN PLACE (Left, Right) - Perform indicated maneuver simultaneously.

JINK - Unpredictable maneuvers to negate a gun tracking solution.

JOKER - Fuel state above Bingo at which separation/bugout/event termination should begin.

JUDY - Aircrew has radar/visual contact on the correct target, has taken control of the intercept and only requires situation awareness information; weapons director (WD) will minimize radio transmissions.

KILL - Directive to commit on target with clearance to fire; in training, a fighter call to indicate kill criteria have been fulfilled.

LADDER - Three or more groups/contacts/formations in trail.

LINE ABREAST - Two groups/contacts/formations/aircraft side-by-side.

LOCKED (BRA/Direction) - Final radar lock-on; sort is not assumed

LOW - Target altitude below 10,000 feet AGL

MAGNUM - launch of AGM-88 HARM.

MARKING - leaving contrails or otherwise marking aircraft position.

MEDIUM - Target altitude between 10,000 feet AGL and 30,000 feet MSL.

MERGE(D) - Informative that friendlies and targets have arrived in the same visual arena.Call indicating radar returns have come together.

MICKEY - Have Quick time-of-day (TOD) signal.

MIDNIGHT - Informative call advising that command and control functions (GCI/AWACS) are no longer available.

MEL - Directive to select military power.

MUD (Direction-Type) - Indicates unknown RWR ground threat displayed; followed normally by clock position.

MUSIC - Electronic radar jamming. On AI radar, electronic deceptive jamming.

NAKED - No RWR indications. Opposite of term "spike".

NO JOY - Aircrew does not have visual contact with the target/bandit; opposite of term "TALLY."

NOTCH (Direction) - All-aspect missile defensive maneuver to place threat radar/missile near the beam.

OFF (Direction) - Informative call indicating attack is terminated and maneuvering to the indicated direction.

OFFSET (Direction) - Informative call indicating maneuver in a specified direction with reference to the target.

PACKAGE - Geographically isolated collection of groups/contacts/formations.

PADLOCKED - Informative call indicating aircrew cannot take eyes off an aircraft/ground target without risk of losing tally/visual.

PAINT - Friendly AAI/APX interrogation retum.

PARROT - IFF transponder.

PICTURE - Situation briefing which includes real-time information pertinent to a specific mission.

PIGEONS (Location) - Magnetic bearing and range to a specified point.

PITCH/PITCHBACK (Left/Right) - Directive call for fighter/flight to execute a nose-high heading reversal.

PLAYTIME - Amount of time aircraft can remain on station.

POINT - Directive for an element to turn towards each other either as a defensive response or to reestablish a mutually supportive formation.

POP - Starting climb for air-to-surface attack.

POPEYE - Flying in clouds or area of reduced visibility.

POSIT - Request for position; response normally in terms of a geographic landmark, or off a common reference point.

POST ATTACK (Direction) - WD transmission to indicate desired direction after completion of intercept/engagement.

POST HOLE - Rapid descending spiral.

POWER - Reminder to set the throttles appropriately considering the IR threat and desired energy state.

PRESS - Directive to continue the attack; mutual support will be maintained. Supportive role will be assumed.

PUMP - A briefed maneuver to stop closure on the threat or geographical boundry while maintaining situation awareness.

PURE - Call indicating pure pursuit is being used or directive call to go pure pursuit.

PUSH (Channel) - Go to designated frequency.

RAYGUN (Position/Azimuth/Altitude) - Radar lock-on to unknown aircraft. Request Buddy Spike/Naked reply.

RANCH HOUSE (Altitude) - Directive or informative indicating subject fighters will return to CAP.

REFERENCE (Direction) - Directive to assume stated heading.

RIFLE - AGM-65 launch.

ROGER - Indicates aircrew understands the radio transmission; does not indicate compliance or reaction.

RUN/RUNNING (Direction) - Directive/Informative - Perform a defensive maneuver to place the threat radar/missile on the tail.

SAM (Direction) - Visual acquisition of a SAM or SAM launch. Should include position.

SANDWICHED - A situation where an aircraft/element finds themselves between opposing aircraft/elements.

SAUNTER - Fly at best endurance.

SEPARATE - Leaving a specific engagement; may or may not reenter.

SHACKLE - One weave; a single crossing of flight paths; maneuver to adjust/ regain formation parameters.

SHADOW - Follow indicated target.

SHIFT - Directive to illuminate second target with laser designator.

SHOOTER - Aircraft designated to employ ordnance.

SHOTGUN - Launch of antiradiation (SHRIKE) missile by Wild Weasel.

SICK - Described equipment is degraded.

SILENT - "GO SILENT" directive to initiate briefed EMCON procedures.

SKIP IT - Veto of fighter commit call; usually followed with further directions.

SLICE/SLICEBACK (Left/Right) - Directive to perform a high-G descending turn in the stated direction; usually 180 deg. turn.

SLOW - Target with ground speed of less than 300 kts.

SNAP SHOT - High-angle/high-LOS gun shot.

SNAP ( ) - An immediate vector (bearing and range) to the group described.

SORTED - Criteria have been met which ensure individual flight members have separate contacts; criteria can be met visually, electronically (radar) or both.

SPARKLE - Target marking by a gunship or FAC using incendiary rounds.

SPIKE - RWR indication of AT threat is displayed. Add clock position, and type threat (radar/heat) if able.

SPITTER (Direction) - An aircraft that has departed from the engagement.

SPLASH* - Target destroyed (air-to-air); weapons impact (air-to-ground).

SPLIT - Request to engage a threat; visual may not be maintained, requires flight lead acknowledgement (air-to-air). Also, directive to begin briefed maneuver/attack.

SPOOFING - Informative that voice deception is being employed.

SPOT - Informative that laser target designation is being received.

SQUAWK ( ) - Operate IFF as indicated or IFF is operating as indicated.

STACK - Two or more groups/contacts/formations with a high/low altitude separation in relation to each other.

STATUS - Request for an individual's tactical situation; response is normally "offensive," "defensive," or "neutral." May be suffixed by position and heading.

STERN - Request for, or directive to, intercept using stern geometry.

STINGER - Formation of two or more aircraft with a single in trail.

STRANGER - Unidentified traffic that is not a participant in the mission.

STRANGLE ( ) - Turn off equipment indicated.

STROBE - AI radar indications of noise radar jamming.

SUNRISE - Informative call that command and control functions are available from GCI/AWACS (opposite of MIDNIGHT).

SUPPORTING - The act of assisting the engaged fighter in killing the bandit while maintaining overall battle situation awareness.

SWITCH/SWITCHED - Indicates an attacker is changing from one aircraft to another.

TALLY - Sighting of a target/bandit; opposite of "NO JOY".

TARGET() - Specification of sort responsibility.

THREAT (Direction) - (GCI/AWACS) Informative that an untargeted bandit/bogey is within 10 NM of a friendly.

TIED - Positive radar contact with element/aircraft.

TRACK - A series of related contacts indicating direction of travel.

TRACKING - Stabilized gun solution.

TRAIL - Tactical formation of two or more aircraft following one another.

TRAILER - The last aircraft in a formation.

TRASHED - Informative call; missile in flight has been defeated.

TUMBLEWEED - Indicates limited situation awareness; no tally, no visual; a request for information.


VIC - Three groups/contacts/formations with the single closest in range and an element in trail.

VICTOR - VHF/AM radio.

VISUAL - Sighting of a friendly aircraft; opposite of "BLIND."

WALL - Three or more groups/contacts/formations line abreast/side-side.

WEAVE - Continuous crossing of flight paths.

WEDGE - Tactical formation of two or more aircraft with the single in front and the other aircraft laterally displaced on either side behind the leader's wing line.

WEEDS - Indicates that aircraft are operating close to the surface.

() WELL - Described equipment is functioning properly.

WHAT LUCK - Request for results of mission/tasks.

WHAT STATE - Request for armament/fuel status; reported as follows: Gun = bullets remaining.


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Posted by butch71 on
I saw video and enjoy it. Keep them coming.
Posted by Jolly on
From Mike:

Great video! Fighters are cute but big, ugly, heavy bombers win wars! (the last one we won was in 1945 with B-17's!)

When you see helicopters fighting wars, then you know we are toast! (Vietnam, Iraq, Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc.)

Posted by DuckPerry on
That's one of the best "Maverick/Goose" sets of airborne figher videos I've ever seen. Nostalgic to say the least. They are all just about gone now aren't they Jolly? Kadena the last F-15C active base?
Hell, I never even flew em and I am sad to see em go.

Posted by Jolly on
No, they still have Light Greys at Lakenheath in the 493rd FS, Grim Reapers. Kadena is down to two squadrons, the 67th Fighting Cocks and 44th Vampires. That's it my friend. Won't be long before they are all in the ANG.
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