Standard Operating Procedures
The latest version of this can be found in the working document here.
The council of Nerds working on this includes Bear, Vähäkylä, Tippis, Nemahs, Bonkers, Burno, JZilla, Slip, Snapshot, Mashed, and Grach.
- Air Goons is a virtual learning community that welcomes pilots of all skill levels with an interest in air combat.
- The purpose of this document is to provide a concise and consistent fund of knowledge for participants in Air Goons missions. It is not intented to be all-inclusive, nor overly restrictive. The contents here are primarily suggestions and recommendations.
- The mission commander and flight leads may alter any of these procedures as required for the mission.
- Individual aircrew may deviate from published procedures if, in their judgement, complying would pose an immediate risk to the safety of their virtual jalopy.
Basic Requirements for partaking
- Your DCS Install needs to be on Open beta, either through Steam or Standalone Client.
- You need to have Simple Radio Standalone installed and tested.
- You need to have a working microphone that you use.
- You need to set up your SRS, and test your connection to the goon server well in advance prior to first time joining.
- You need to give your best good faith effort to follow, and obey the orders, of your flight lead. Don't be a jackass. You will not get frowned upon for not knowing everything, but malicious goofing off will not be accepted.
- You need to check into Discord and make sure you've read the pre-flight stuff, and this SOP.
- You have to check into your own plane type related planning in Airgoons Discord days before game time to be part of the process, or at least understand or ask questions. They are down the list of channels.
Mission Planning and Responsiblities
- In order to improve organization and efficiency, participants in Air Goons missions are organized into Mission Commander, Flight Leads, Element Leads, and Wingmen.
- Leadership responsibilites should be rotated so everyone has a chance to lead. This way the whole mission does not fall apart if a single person cannot make it.
- If no one volunteers for a leadership spot, it may be assigned. If you are in such a position, try your best and take it as a learning opportunity.
- Leaders should consider reasonable suggestions from flight members, but they retain the final responsiblity for the decision.
Mission Commander (MC)
- A mission commander (MC) will be designated for each mission.
- In order to allow him to focus on his command duties, the MC should occupy either a F-14 Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) slot, or an Ground Control Intercept (GCI) position.
- A RIO MC may also assume the Flight Lead role, or delegate it to his Pilot.
- A MC in a single-pilot airframe is also the Flight Lead for their flight.
- The MC is responsible for:
- Overall performance of the package and success of the mission.
- Flight route and timing.
- Rules of engagement
- Organizing flights by airframe and role.
- Sequencing of flights in the package.
- Large mission-scale contingency planning.
Flight Lead (FL)
- The Flight Lead is the first assigned pilot slot in each flight.
- The FL is responsible for:
- Overall safety and performance of their flight.
- Selecting an appropriate loadout to fulfill the MC’s assigned role.
- Ensuring all flight members understand the mission, objectives, ROE, and flight plan.
- Primary Navigation and Radar Scan.
- Assigning targetting responsiblity to wingman and element.
- Report any flight losses to the Mission Commander.
- Report fuel and weapons state to the Mission Commander when requested, or when nearing depletion (only enough for one more engagement).
Element Lead (EL)
- The Element Lead is the number three position in a four-man flight. Element leads do not exist for two and three man flights.
- EL responsiblities:
- Maintain formation as directed by the FL.
- Backs up FL in navigation and radar scan.
- Prosecute targets assigned by the FL.
- Designate targets to wingman #4.
- Takes over FL responsiblities if the FL is shot down or forced to drop out.
- Wingmen are the number two and four positions in the four-man flight, the number two and three positions of a three man flight, or the number two position of a two-man flight.
- Wingman responsibilities:
- Thoroughly understand the mission objective, route, altitudes and speeds, formation used, and rules of engagement. If you have any questions, speak up early, preferably on the ground.
- Fly proper formation off your designated lead.
- Primary visual lookout.
- Secondary radar scan.
Order of Succession
- In the event of no-shows, disconnections, or combat losses, the order of succession for each flight will be as follows:
- In a four-ship flight:
- If #3 drops, #4 becomes #1’s second wingman.
- If #1 drops, #3 is FL and #2 becomes his second wingman.
- If both #1 and #3 drop, #2 is FL and #4 is his wingman.
- In a three-ship flight:
- If #1 drops, #2 becomes FL and #3 is his wingman.
- In a four-ship flight:
- If a no-show occurs before the start of a mission, the Flight Lead will re-number his flight.
- After a mission is started, all aircraft shall retain their numerical callsign.
- Upon a change in Flight Lead, the new Flight Lead shall announce it to the Mission Commander on Package Frequency. “Overlord, Goon 3, Goon 1 is down and I am taking the lead.”
- Flight leads shall notify the Mission Commander if their flight has less than the pre-assigned number of pilots, and will state if they are still capable of fufilling their assigned role with a short-manned flight.
- Pilots who join late, re-connect, or re-spawn may take off as singletons to rejoin their flight.
- Late joiners take the bottom-most numerical positions in a flight.
- Upon rejoin of a previous Flight Lead, the current Flight Lead may relinquish his role, or assign the rejoining pilot to another role.
- Simple Radio Standalone (SRS) is used for all Air Goons missions, as well as on many popular multiplayer servers.
- All participants shall install and configure SRS in PTT mode for two radios. For new pilots, proper operation of SRS should be tested prior to mission start.
- Tuning frequencies: SRS works transparently with most full-fidelity aircraft radios. However, pilots of FC3 aircraft will need to set up hotkeys, or use the SRS overlay.
- We use two radios for package and intraflight communication.
- Frequencies are published in the mission briefing.
- Package frequency is for communications between the Mission Commander and Flight Leaders. All other players should monitor the package frequency.
- Intraflight frequency is for flight members to coordinate logistical, targetting, and other tasks.
- Discord is our primary out-of-game communication tool, and is also used for communications before and after a mission.
- Non-mission related chat should be relegated to Discord.
- Players may want to bind mute and deafen hotkeys in the Discord app.
- Preface all communications with the complete flight call sign (except for wingman acknowledgment), e.g. “Goon 1”
- When making a directive statement, use the callsign of the recipient: “Goon 2, break left!”
- When making a descriptive statement, put your callsign first. “Goon 1 passing waypoint two”
- Acknowledge radio checks, which do not require the transmission of specific data by individual flight members, in turn (Example: “2, 3, 4”).
- Communications on Package and Intra-flight SRS channels should be kept relevant to the current mission. Discord should be used for non-mission related chat.
- Close the loop on all interflight and AWACS communications by reading back the key points of the transmission. This ensures the message was sent AND received correctly.
- Use of Brevity Codes is encouraged. However, clear and efficient communication takes precedence.
- If you do not know the proper brevity term, speak in plain English instead.
- If you are unfamiliar with the meaning of a brevity term, ask immediately! Do not assume!
- Fuel and weapons loadouts will be determined by Flight Leads in order to fulfill the flight’s role as assigned by the Mission Commander.
- All members of the flight should carry identical loadouts. This ensures consistent performance amongst flight members, and creates redundancy in case one flight member drops.
- Flight leads will verify each member is ready for taxi before announcing it to the Mission Commander.
- Flights will taxi out together in the order prescribed by the Mission Commander.
- External Lights: Recommendations as follows.
- Anti-collision beacon - ON whenever engines are on.
- Navigation lights - ON when ready for taxi
- Taxi lights - ON immediately before taxiiing.
- Landing lights - ON when taking the runway
- Formation Lights - ON at night. OFF during daytime.
Takeoff and Departure
- Flights will line up as appropriate based on weather conditions, runway conditions, and runway width. Use a minimum of 500 feet spacing between separated elements/flights.
- For formation takeoffs, wingmen must maintain wingtip clearance with their element leader.
- If runway width precludes line-up with wingtip clearance between all aircraft in the flight, use 500 feet spacing between elements.
- Just prior to takeoff, all flight members will inspect each other for proper configuration and any abnormalities. Wingmen will indicate they are ready for takeoff by a radio call: “Goon 2, ready for takeoff!”
- Use a minimum of 10 seconds (15 seconds when using afterburners) takeoff interval between aircraft/elements.
- Formation takeoffs are restricted to elements of two aircraft.
- The wingman should be placed on the upwind side of the runway.
- Do not make formation takeoffs when the crosswind component exceeds 15 knots.
- Flight leaders will maintain 350 KIAS until join-up is accomplished unless mission requirements necessitate a different airspeed. Pilots may delay coming out of AB to help establish a rate of closure on the leader or lead element.
- If a turning join-up is to be accomplished, the flight leader will not normally exceed 30 degrees of bank.
- For a straight ahead rejoin, the number two aircraft will join on the left wing and the element will join on the right wing unless otherwise briefed.
- For a turning rejoin, the number two aircraft will rejoin on the inside of the turn and the element to the outside.
Trail Departure (Instrument Procedure)
- A trail departure is normally used to get a flight of two or more air-borne when conditions will not permit a formation takeoff. For prolonged IMC flight, radar trail is preferred because close formation increases wingman workload and can induce spatial disorientation.
- Use a minimum of 20 seconds takeoff spacing.
- Each aircraft/element will accelerate in MIL/AB power until reaching 350 KIAS. Climb at 350 KIAS until reaching cruise Mach. All turns will be made using 30 degrees of bank.
- Each aircraft/element will maintain 2-3 mile trail during the climb, unless otherwise briefed.
- On departure, each aircraft/element will follow the No Radar Contact procedures until all aircraft/elements have gained radar contact and called "tied".
- The flight leader will call initiating all turns.
- Lead will call passing each 5,000 foot altitude increment
- Each aircraft/element will call "tied" when radar contact is established with the preceding aircraft. Once all aircraft are tied, no further radio calls are required
- The following rules apply for flight path deconfliction during tactical maneuvering:
- Wingmen/elements must maneuver relative to the flight lead/lead element and maintain sight.
- Trailing aircraft/elements are responsible for deconflicting with lead aircraft/elements.
- Wingmen/elements will cross above the lead/lead element when deconfliction is required.
- Trailing aircraft/element(s) will maintain a sufficient spacing so that primary emphasis during formation maneuvering/turns is on low altitude awareness and deconfliction within elements, not on deconfliction between elements.
- Wingmen will fly from 6,000 to 9,000 feet and strive for the 0-degree line, unless further defined by the flight lead
- The 6,000 to 9,000 feet position provides optimum visual and firepower mutual support for threats from the beam and 6 o'clock positions.
- This formation gives the wingman a maneuvering cone from 30 to 60 degrees aft of line abreast and lateral spacing between 500 to 3,000 feet.
- This formation is employed in situations where maximum maneuvering potential is desired.
Four Ship Formations
- The four-ship is under the control of one flight lead and is employed as a single entity until such time as it is forced to separate into two elements.
- At no time should an element sacrifice element integrity attempting to maintain the four-ship formation.
- Each two-ship element should have its own radar and visual plan so that no changes will be required if the four-ship is split into two-ships.
- Elements use the line abreast maneuvering.
- The trailing element takes 1.5 to 3 NM separation.
- The objective of the spacing is to give separation to avoid easy visual detection of the whole formation, while positioning the rear element in a good position to immediately engage an enemy converging on the lead element.
- Element leads fly line abreast, with wingmen in Fighting Wing.
- Number Three maneuvers off Number One.
- Number Two and Number Four maneuver off their element leaders to maintain the outside of the formation.
Formation Approaches and Landings
- Pilots will use a rate of descent similar to a precision approach. Fly a published precision instrument approach if one is available. If not, pilots will fly a non-precision approach or VFR straight in and reference available lighting systems (e.g., VASI, PAPI) for descent angle
- If the crosswind exceeds 5 knots, lead will position the wingman on the upwind side.
- The wingman will maintain a minimum of 10 feet lateral wingtip spacing. If the wingman overruns lead after landing, lead will accept the overrun and maintain the appropriate side of the runway and wingtip clearance.
- Night Ground Operations
- Pilots will comply with a taxi spacing minimum of 300 feet and taxi on the centerline.
- Pilots will use the taxi light during all night taxiing.
- Night Takeoff
- Following takeoff, each aircraft/element will climb on runway heading to 1,000 feet AGL before initiating turns
- Night Landing.
- Land from the most precise approach available.
- Pilots will only conduct night formation landings when required for safe recovery of the aircraft.
For basic wingman, the following are things you should know about AWACS, or Airborne Warning And Control System, the eye in the sky that will have often a human player. Also known as GCI, Ground Controlled Intercept, when there is no aerial asset to do it. Due to the fudging of a video game environment, in our missions this is all the same. JSTARS, or joint surveillance and target attack radar system, is the same concept, but monitors ground targets and movement from sky. As said, in our games, AWACS-GCI-JSTARS all merge into the same concept and usually just one person.
- In goon missions, the radio frequency for overall command is 251.000mhz (or as briefed), and if we have a human controller, he is also found on same channel.
- Be tuned to this channel, even if you are not a flight lead, unless directed otherwise. It provides situational awaraness.
- The basic call you need to understand is a BRA, or a BRAA call. Bearing-Range-Altitude given to someone, for example you. "MiG-23s, two ship, 280, 30 miles, 25,000" means you have enemy MiG-23s at your bearing 280, 30 miles from you, and they are flying at 25,000 feet.
- If nothing else, acknowledge it.
- If you would like to ask for closest hostile, ask for a "bogey dope". "Screwtop 1, this Pontiac 6. Bogey dope". You will receive a BRA in return.
- You might also hear a bullseye call. Don't worry about it as a beginner, but the explanation is found at Bullseye
- Big Picture
- One-line Flight Briefs
- Brevity Codewords / Expected Actions
- Emergency Procedures
- Airfield / Tower Brief
- Final Comments, Questions, Etc.
Quick guide for debrief.