• Standard Operating Procedures

    ***It is not permitted to copy these SOPs outside of the 1st VFW without permission.***

    1st Virtual Fighter Wing
    VMFA-294 Standard Operating Procedures
    Certified for DCS World 2.5x
    Updated February 9th, 2019

    Chapter 1 – Radio Procedures

    1.0. Event Number, Radio Frequencies, TACAN Channels

    1.0.1. Comm Unit Specification. Com 1 (referred to as PRIMARY or PRI) will be used as the tactical radio to communicate with other flights, and all internal flight communications will be handled on Com 2 (referred to as AUXILLARY or AUX). Comm1 or PRIMARY is the radio the left in the jet, and Comm2 or AUX is the radio on the right. Every member should be mindful of keeping non-mission critical comms off of primary so as not to clog up the radios with unneeded traffic.

    1.0.2. Event Numbers. Each flight will be assigned an event number, and each event number has a TACAN channels assigned to them. The reason for this is to simplify mission creators having to assign TACANS. For each flight we do if you know your event number, you'll know which TACAN channels are assigned to your flight. Note, both TACAN bands are available to each event in case they want to split it between each section of their flight. Also note, the TACAN channels listed below should not be used for tankers or otherwise when creating a mission.

    1.2.1. Event TACAN Assignments

    • Event 1 | 74YX
    • Event 2 | 75YX
    • Event 3 | 76YX
    • Event 4 | 77YX
    • Event 5 | 78YX
    • Event 6 | 79YX
    • Event 7 | 80YX
    • Event 8 | 81YX

    1.1. Radio Procedures

    1.1.1. Comms Standards. The standard radio transmission is made up of three parts. Recipient Callsign, your callsign, and the information needing to be passed. For example, if you are in a flight, Knight 1, and you want to tell another flight, Chevy 2, there are hostile contacts:
    a) “Chevy 2, Knight 1. Be advised, single group, bullseye 174, 80 miles, twenty thousand, hostile"

    1.1.2. Your Callsign.
    Once you enter the 3D world you should use your event callsign (i.e. Knight 12) from that point on. Note, when you are responding to things within your own event, you can use your number instead of your full callsign (i.e. "Two").

    1.1.3. Acknowledging.
    Each wingman shall respond with his number in the division or section when replying to a directive call. This rule does not apply to informative calls. When in doubt, acknowledge the call.
    a) Directive Example:
    “Knight 1 check left 3-1-0”
    b) Informative Example:
    “Knight 1 is millertime”

    1.1.4. Radio Etiquette. The basic rule for talking on the radio is to think about what you want to say before you key the radio to speak. Remember the mantra it’s push-to-talk, not push-to-think. Try to be clear and concise. It can be frustrating to want to say something important on the radio when someone is making a long radio transmission with lots of pauses in their speech. Also, do not key the radio to say something, and then let go of the push-to-talk, and then immediately key the radio again to say something else. Every time you let go of the push-to-talk button you need to wait and see if anyone is going to respond otherwise you will both be transmitting at the same time and neither of your transmissions will make it through. Take a second before every radio transmission to think about what you want to say and you will become better at brevity over time.

    1.1.5. Flight-to-Flight Communication.
    This is no different than the standards bullet points above, however you might be told to standby. When you need to get in contact with another flight, be sure to speak their callsign over the radio followed by your callsign. This will alert the receiving aircraft or flight that they are about to be spoken to. For example, before saying what you need to say to the other flight, you need to contact them like the following when Knight1 is trying to contact Ford 3:

    “Ford 3, Knight 1”

    After Ford 3 replies with something like “Go for Ford 3”, Knight 1 can send their traffic.

    The reason you make this call before jumping into whatever you want to say is because the other flight (Ford 3 in this case) may be busy or actively talking within his own flight and not be ready to receive your transmission. If that happens, Ford 3 may not reply or may say something like “standby”. If another flight tells you to standby, you must wait until the receiving aircraft gives you the “Send traffic” call. It is permitted to override the standby if there the flight is in immediate danger or to communicate an emergency. In all cases when it comes to radio communications, if something important needs to be said, you can just say it. You don't need to contact them before sending your message in those cases. Flight safety always comes first over SOPs.

    1.1.6. Frequency Changes and Directive Calls:
    Push: A flight lead may elect to use a “push” call when he or she wishes to keep comms traffic to a minimum. Push is most often used for switching a flight to a frequency or anything else the flight lead deems necessary, however the important thing to note about “push” is you the pilot will not respond to it.

    Go: Go calls are the exact opposite of Push calls. This code word is used when the flight lead wants a response before committing the action. Go calls are commonly used for non-briefed actions, or to confirm his wingmen heard the call before he changes frequencies. For example, after takeoff everyone in the event should expect to hear a push call to another frequency so the event lead doesn’t need to do a “go” call. However, if his wingman says he can’t hear lead on a specific preset, lead may say “go to button 3” because he wants to make sure his wingman heard it before he changes the preset.

    GO: “Knight, GO primary two-four-two-point-zero”

    After acknowledging you then change the frequency, whereas if Flight Lead said "push":

    PUSH: “Knight, PUSH primary 2”
    No Response need - wingmen just change the frequency and wait for the check-in on the new freq.

    Note: If an aircraft in sequence doesn’t respond, the next aircraft will not respond until the communications issue gets sorted with the aircraft that didn’t respond. IE: If number two doesn’t say “2” then three and four will hold their calls. If flight lead doesn't hear anything from dash 2, he should say something on AUX like "Two, did you switch to PRI 2?" and get it sorted out before checking the remaining wingmen.

    1.1.7. Knock it Off & Terminate. The procedures surrounding these two calls must be clearly understood by all pilots during training. Knock-It-Off (KIO) Call. The term “knock-it-off” may be used by any member of the formation to direct all aircraft to cease maneuvering and will be used when safety of flight is a developing factor. If danger is imminent, a directive call should be made. "Knock it off" does not mean the flight will cease flying formation, rather the flight lead will decide on the appropriate course of action with the goal of providing a stable platform while clearing his/her flight path. Following a “knock-it-off” call all flight members will vigilantly clear their flight paths while terminating individual maneuvers and proceed as directed by the flight lead. Eg. During a BFM event the KIO call was made, all flight members would stabilize in their current position and wait for instructions from Lead. KIO Procedures. Initiation of a knock-it-off will begin with the flight call sign, and “knock-it-off.” If prudent, a short description of the hazard may be included such as hard deck, traffic, etc.. This call will be followed by the flight acknowledging the call, in flight order. In the following example, Hammer flight is flying an extended trail, fluid maneuvering exercise when a member of Hammer flight has realized the flight is quickly approaching the briefed hard deck (lower altitude limit for maneuvering):
    KIO Call Made: “Hammer flight, knock-it-off, hard deck”

    KIO Call Acknowledged: “Hammer 1, knock it off” (flight lead)
    “Hammer 2, knock it off”
    “Hammer 3, knock it off”
    “Hammer 4, knock it off”
    In this example, all aircraft were alerted to a safety of flight condition that was developing. Who called KIO is not critical as the condition effected all flight members. Had the flight member witnessed imminent danger, a flight member’s pending impact with the ground in this case, the call would instead be directive in nature (“Hammer 2, pull up!”), and a flight “knock it off” call should not be used until after directive instructions are provided. When to Call Knock-It-Off. Transmit KIO when any of the following situations occur:
    • A dangerous situation is developing
    • Loss of situational awareness that can’t be regained
    • Violation of briefed area boundaries or flight through minimum altitudes has or is about to occur
    • Recognized radio failure
    • Bingo fuel inadvertently overflown such that a direct flight to primary or alternate is required
    • Non-briefed or non-participating flight/aircraft enters area and is a potential hazard to the flight
    • Over-G/exceeding briefed flight parameters Terminate Call. Call “Terminate” to direct a specific aircraft or flight to cease maneuvering and to proceed as directed. Use “terminate” when safety of flight is not a factor, or as briefed. This call is particularly useful during formation or BFM training to inform the flight lead that all desired training has been achieved for a given phase of maneuvering. Terminate Procedures. The following is the procedures for a terminate call.
    Flight Lead: Acknowledge the wingmen terminate request. Unless there is a safety of flight issue, the decision to continue the current maneuver is yours to make based on training requirements, fuel state, area awareness, etc. Wingman Response to Terminate Call. When hearing a terminate request while flying in finger four formation, simply await lead’s direction. When flying extended trail or during rejoins, if lead calls terminate, all flight members should acknowledge in sequence. When to Call Terminate. Transmit Terminate when the following situations occur:
    • The desired learning objective is achieved.
    • Warranted by the situation and KIO is not called for.

    NOTE: Wingmen calling “terminate” for reasons other than safety of flight, will preface this call with “request” and await flight lead direction. Flight Lead (or your Instructor Pilot) makes the terminate call. Wingmen and students can only request to terminate. That is another difference between "Knock-it-Off" and "Terminate". Anyone can make a KIO call because safety is paramount, whereas "Terminate" is up to flight lead or the Instructor Pilot to determine if the training objective has been achieved or should cease.

    1.1.8. Safety First. At any point during the mission if you need to say something important that pertains to the safety of you or any friendly flights, you can speak up and say whatever you need to say. Making sure all flights RTB is more important than SOPs. The same applies for using brevity or not. You can always say something in plain English when needed. If you don’t know the brevity code, just use plain English.

    1.1.9. Usernames. If another pilot is not responding to your calls, you can use their wing username/callsign to cut through all the radio traffic to try and get their attention. For example, instead of calling Knight 1 you can say “Fulcrum” or “Demo” to get their attention.

    Chapter 2 – External Lighting

    2.0 External Lighting SOP

    2.0.1. The following SOPs will apply for external lighting except when fenced in. Daytime Lighting
    - Position Lights: OFF
    - Strobe Lights: ON
    - Landing Light: OFF during taxi, ON as you take active runway, OFF after landing
    - Formation Lights: OFF Night Lighting:
    - Position Lights: ON
    - Landing Light: ON during taxi or as needed
    - Strobe Lights: ON
    - Formation Lights: As briefed, or as required by wingman FENCED In:
    - All External Lights: OFF
    - Formation Lights: As Required Air to Air Refueling:
    - Strobe Lights: ON
    - Strobe Lights: OFF
    - Formation Lights: ON
    - Position Lights: OFF

    Note: The default switches when you get in the F/A-18C are the correct settings for day time operations. You don't need to make any adjustments.

    2.0.2. Formation Lights. Default is to keep them off unless briefed. However, if it's dark enough to warrant using them, wingmen can request them. They should always be off during the day.

    Chapter 3 – Flying Operations

    3.0. Ramp Start

    3.0.1. Startup. Once you are cleared to the 3D world from the select role screen, you can start your jet whenever you are ready. It's recommended you do a controls check immediately and make sure your rudder pedals, throttle, and stick are moving in-game. That way if you have an issue, you can fix it right away.

    Things to Remember when ramp starting:

    • Complete your ramp start checklist and:
    • Select a 1st VFW skin
    • Get the local QNH (in-game briefing or ATIS if not provided by MC)
    • Enter any waypoints if necessary prior to marshal
    • Assign bullseye waypoint
    • If you have an issue or question during ramp start, you can use AUX or Teamspeak. However, no comms are required during the ramp start. Radio checks are completed per the briefing (usually at the marshal)
    • You can taxi to the marshal whenever you are ready. You don’t have to wait until Lead is taxi. Just make sure you lineup per the marshal procedures briefed.

    3.0.2. Marshal. Marshal procedure should be covered in the briefing. The reason we marshal at the airfield is that often we are not ramp starting right next to each other and may be on different sides of the airfield. Marshaling enables to the flight to get joined up and perform any final checks prior to taxi.

    Flight leads have three options for choosing where and how to marshal: Marshal at the line. If there isn't a good marshal location at the airfield (i.e. it's not one of our theater homeplates listed below), or if all aircraft are parked next to each other during the ramp start, flight lead can brief that you will marshal at the line. This means you will not need to taxi to a marshal location. Flight lead will perform the AUX check from the ramp start location. Carrier ops will always use marshal at the line. Marshal at one of the assigned airfield locations. If you are at one of the following airfields shown below (Al Minhad, Tonopah, or Kobuleti), and it is not briefed that you will marshal at the line, you will marshal at the locations shown in the figures below. These are our most commonly used airfields and therefore you are ramp starting at one of these airfields, you should already know where to marshal. Marshal at a convenient location. In some cases you may be ramp starting at an unfamiliar airfield and need a location to marshal and join up before taxiing to the runway. If this happens, flight lead will need to pick a location that is convenient for the flight to marshal. Marshal Procedure.
    When lining up to marshal, you should always line up to flight lead's left. For example, if lead is lined up on the north side of a ramp, two will line up south of him to his left, then three will be on two's left, and four will be on three's left. After all aircraft are at the marshal, flight lead will perform a radio check on AUX on the briefed frequency for your flight. You should respond with your dash number in flight order. AUX Check example:
    “Knight 1 check AUX”
    “4” Other Marshal Checks & Considerations:
    -Flight lead should always check you have a good yardstick (A/A TCN)
    -Marshal is a good opportunity to check your controls, speedbrake, refueling probe, and hook
    -There is no primary (Comm1) check at the marshal.
    -Flight lead will make his taxi call on primary so if you see flight lead start to taxi and didn't hear anything on primary, speak up on AUX because you may not be on the correct PRI channel/freq
    -Flight leads need to leave room for other flights. Think about that if you are leadings when you choose where to park.
    -Follow taxi lines when leaving the marshal.

    3.0.3. Al Minhad Airbase (Persian Gulf) Marshal and EOR Areas Al Minhad Info. All missions in Persian Gulf should use Al Minhad as it's the homeplate of VMFA-294. Aircraft should be placed to spawn in the location shown in the image above. The marshal area is located just south of the spawn location, and therefore, at Al Minhad flight lead may choose to marshal at the line if needed. However, if marshaling is needed, the location shown in the image above should be used with flight leads lining up on the east side and wingmen lining up to the west (left of flight lead). Note, the EORs/arming locations are also marked.

    3.0.4. Tonopah Test Range Airport (Nevada). Tonopah Info. The marshal area at Tonopah shown above is located on the northeast side of the airfield in a gap between a large row of shelters and the northern most shelters. Lineup is performed from north to south with lead lining up on the north side and wingmen to lead's left. Additional events line up behind the first event in the same order. Note that the EORs at Tonopah are right by the runway hold short, and aircraft should line up with flight lead closest to the runway.

    3.0.5. Kobuleti (Caucuses) Marshal & EOR Locations.

    3.1 Taxi Procedures
    3.1.1. Leaving the Marshal. Once the flight lead has checked everyone in, the flight lead will make a taxi call on the PRI radio and then begin his taxi. The wingmen will then taxi in order.

    3.1.1. Tower Taxi Call. The taxi call should be made in the following format:

    [Airfield Name] traffic, [Flight Callsign], # and type of a/c, [your location], taxi, [runway #]

    For example:
    "Al Minhad traffic, Knight 1, two hornets, at the marshal, taxi, runway 0-9."

    It is assumed everyone in the flight is tuned to the correct frequency on the PRI radio. If you do not hear the call on the PRI radio from lead during the taxi call, then you need to inform him or her immediately. Also, after flight lead makes the airbase traffic call that he is taxi, you don’t need to say “[Callsign] is taxi”. Operate under the “no news is good news” rule. If lead doesn’t hear anything from you he/she will assume you are taxiing and everything is situation normal.

    3.1.2. Taxi Formation.
    The normal taxi procedure for VMFA-294 aircraft is to taxi in a staggered taxi and will maintain 150ft nose to tail separation. If the condition of the taxiway is poor or the taxiway width doesn’t allow a staggered taxi, then a trail taxi will be used at 300ft spacing nose to tail. Max taxi ground speed is 25kts ground speed. We typically taxi near 20.

    : We are not trying to fly formation while taxing. Do not stress over distances but use common sense keeping enough spacing you will not run into your lead or so far away you are taking up a large portion of the taxiway length causing traffic issues behind you. Use the above image for reference on distances.

    3.2 End of Runway (EOR) & Takeoff
    3.2.1. EOR Checks. If an airfield has an End of Runway (EOR) turn-out available, all flights will line up there prior to taking the active runway. At the EOR, flight lead will perform an alpha check on bullseye and confirm air-to-air TACAN is working. When the alpha check is completed on the bullseye, flight lead will make a traffic call and the flight will turn on their landing lights before taking the active runway. Note, if there is not an EOR at the airfield, these checks should be performed at the runway hold short line. Alpha Check Bullseye. The only required check at the EOR is the bullseye alpha check. This is completed by flight lead looking at his FCR and reading off his current bullseye (the bullseye located at the bottom center of the FCR). Wingmen will then cross reference their own ship's bullseye and confirm it matches what flight lead said and respond with a positive acknowledgement using their dash number.

    For example:
    "Knight 1, alpha check bullseye 2-1-0, 180 miles, check yardstick"

    Note: If your bullseye does not match what flight lead said, or you do not have a good yardstick, please speak up on AUX and sort out the issue. If you are performing an instrument departure, the yardstick will be the airfield you are tuned into using your TACAN. Departure Traffic Radio Call. After the EOR checks are completed, Flight Lead will make an airfield traffic call letting other flights know they are taking the active runway and departing and switch his flight over to the tactical primary channel. We switch channels to avoid having the AI repeat the same calls over and over again while you are lined up on the active runway. The format is as follows:

    [Airfield Name] traffic, [Flight Callsign], departing [RWY #], [Flight Callsign] push [tactical/common freq]

    For example:
    "Al Minhad traffic, Knight 1, departing runway 0-9, Knight, push 3 on primary"

    Then as you turn on your landing light taking the active runway flight lead will wait a few moments to allow his wingmen to change frequencies and then flight lead will perform a radio check on the new primary.

    "Knight 1, check primary"

    Note: If a flight makes their departure call and takes the active and/or departs and you need to get a hold of them and you are still on the tower frequency, you should know which frequency they switched to and be able to change to that frequency and contact them. Also, please note that if we are flying on a public server or another group's server, all our members are required to follow their ATC procedures and make the appropriate traffic calls.

    3.2.2. Takeoff Types. For departure types, flight leads can choose between a rolling takeoff, interval takeoff, and no interval takeoff. The takeoff type is up to flight lead, however, there are some scenarios where one is more beneficial than the other. A interval takeoff enables the flight to line up on the runway, look over each other's aircrafts one more time, and depart in a organized manner, but it does take longer to get everyone on the runway and in position. Rolling takeoffs are the quickest departure type and can be useful when the airfield is busy or there is inbound traffic. A no interval takeoff enables the wingmen to takeoff while in formation and reduce time to join up, but does have restrictions in loadouts, weather/winds, and runway conditions. Rolling Takeoff. To perform a rolling takeoff, flight lead takes the active and doesn't stop. He keeps rolling right into his takeoff. As soon as lead goes into afterburner the next aircraft takes the active runway and does the same. It's called a rolling takeoff because you don't stop after taking the active from the taxiway. Interval Formation Takeoff. To perform an interval formation takeoff, each aircraft takes the active runway together and lines up as shown below. The standard interval is 10 seconds, but that can be increased as needed by flight lead for radar trail departures or weather conditions. Interval Takeoff. After the flight is in position, each pilot looks over the next aircraft to ensure the speedbrake is retracted, the flaps are set for takeoff, all panels are closed, no fluids are leaking, safety pins are removed, rudders are toed-in, nosewheel is straight and the launch bar is up. Formation Takeoff Lineup.
    For formation takeoff (interval or no interval), all aspects of the takeoff must be prebriefed by the flight leader. This should include flap settings, use of nosewheel steering, power changes, power settings, and signals for actuation of landing gear, flaps, and afterburner. The leader takes position on the downwind side of the runway with other aircraft in tactical order, maintaining normal parade bearing. See figure below. For three-aircraft formations, line up with the lead on the downwind side, number 2 on the centerline, and number 3 on the upwind side. Wingtip/launch rail overlap should not be required but is permitted if necessary. For four-plane formations, line up with the lead’s section on the downwind half of the runway and other section on the upwind half. Interval Section Takeoff Procedure.
    The procedure for a formation interval takeoff is that once all ships are in position flight lead will make the run 'em up call. Note, once you as a wingman are in position, you should perform your final controls checks and do your wipeout and then look towards your section leader. This will give flight lead the indication each aircraft is ready. The procedure for an interval takeoff is as follows:

    For example:
    "Knight 1, run 'em up" [brakes set, run engines up to 80%]
    "Two" [Dash 2 acknowledges the call]

    [Brief delay while dash 2 gets his engine up to 80%]

    "Two is in the green" [Dash 2 is at 80% RPM and has good pressure/good engines]
    "Brakes, Brakes, Ready, Now" [Flight Lead giving the brakes release call on the word "now"]

    After flight lead says "now", he will release his brakes and advance his throttle for takeoff. Ten seconds later, or as briefed, dash 2 will release his brakes (without saying anything on the radio) and begin his takeoff roll. If it is a three ship, dash 3 would do the same ten seconds later. If the flight is a 4-ship, after flight lead starts his takeoff roll, dash 3 will begin the same procedure. He will call brakes set, run 'em up, wait for dash 4 to acknowledge the call and then say he is in the green, and then dash 3 will make the "brakes, brakes, ready, now" call and start his takeoff roll. Ten seconds later dash 4 will begin his takeoff roll (without saying anything on the radio). It is important that after the first section does their takeoff procedure they keep the radio clear for dash 3 and dash 4 to complete their takeoff.

    Note: No interval and interval formation takeoffs are performed in sections. Therefore, if flight lead says to run the engines up, he is only saying that to dash 2. The exception is that if you are a 3-ship, in which case he would be talking to dash 3 as well and dash 3 would make the same acknowledgement calls after dash 2 (i.e. he would also say "Three" and "Three is in the green"). But if it's a 4-ship, this procedure would be completed by the first section and then repeated by dash 3 and dash 4. Also, an important note that as the wingman you should not wait to acknowledge the "run 'em up" call until your engine is at 80%. The first acknowledgement call, "Two", is to acknowledge flight lead's call that he is directing you to set your brakes and run your engine up to 80%. Therefore, after flight lead (or dash 3 in section lead) says "run 'em up", he should immediately hear you acknowledge his call. There can be a delay after you acknowledge before you say "[dash #] in the green" because you need a moment to get your engine to 80% and check your gauges.

    If you are in a flight with more than 4 aircraft, that is a non-standard flight and the departure or takeoff type should be thoroughly briefed. No Interval Section Takeoff.
    A no interval section takeoff means all aircraft in the flight will all take the active and depart in formation in sections (2-ships). Engines are run up to approximately 80%, instruments checked, and nosewheel steering low gain ensured. On signal from the leader, brakes are released, throttles are advanced to military power minus 2% rpm. If afterburner is desired, the leader may go into mid range burner immediately without stopping at military power. Normal takeoff techniques should be used by the leader, with the wingman striving to match the lead aircraft attitude as well as maintain a position in parade bearing with wingtip separation. The gear and flaps are retracted via radio calls (since we can't do hand signals). Turns into the wingman are not to be made at altitudes less than 500 feet above ground level. When both sections begin takeoff roll from the same point on the runway, the second section must delay takeoff roll until 10 seconds after the first section starts the takeoff roll. When 2,000 feet of runway separation exists at the beginning of takeoff roll, use a 5-second delay instead of 10 seconds.

    : Section takeoff is prohibited with any of the following conditions:
    a. Crosswind over 15 knots
    b. Asymmetric load over 9,000 foot-pounds not including missiles or pods on stations 1 and 9
    c. Dissimilar loadout except for VERS, MERS, TERS, pylons, FLIR, LDT, fuselage AIM-7s/AIM-120s or wing tip mounted stores. Procedure for No Interval Section Takeoff. The procedure for a no interval section takeoff starts the same as the interval formation takeoff with the same lineup and radio calls. The only differences are that when flight lead (or section lead) say "brakes, brakes, ready, now" the wingman will also release his brakes at the same time and advance his throttles for takeoff with his lead. As noted above, flight lead/section lead, should not go full afterburner if afterburner takeoff, and not full military power if a mil power takeoff. The reason for this is to give the wingman a little extra throttle if needed to stay in position. An example of the full procedure is outlined below.

    For example:
    "Knight 1, run 'em up" [brakes set, run engines up to 80%]
    "Two" [Dash 2 acknowledges the call]

    [Brief delay while dash 2 gets his engine to 80% RPM]

    "Two is in the green" [Dash 2 is at 80% RPM and has good pressure/good engines]
    "Brakes, Brakes, Ready, Now" [Flight Lead giving the brakes release call on the word "now"]

    [Dash 2 releases his brakes with flight lead and does his best to maintain position]
    [Flight lead rotates and then when he is raising his gear and flaps he says it over the radio]

    "Gear, now"
    "Flaps, now"

    Wingman doesn't acknowledge the gear and flaps calls. Those are informative calls. Again, if this is a 4-ship flight, the no interval takeoff would be completed in sections (1 and 2 go, ten seconds later 3 and 4 go following the same procedure). Any time there is a four ship section takeoff, it's important dash 1 and dash 2 keep the radios clear so dash 3 and dash 4 can do their takeoff. Aborted No Interval Section Takeoff.
    In the event of an aborted takeoff, the aircraft aborting must immediately notify the other aircraft. The aircraft not aborting should add max power and accelerate ahead and out of the way of the aborting aircraft. This allows the aborting aircraft to steer to the center of the runway and engage the arresting gear, if required. Overshooting Lead During No Interval Takeoff. If during a no interval section takeoff, the wingman overtakes his lead he must immediately notify his lead and take lead for the remainder of the takeoff. It is safer for the wingman to take lead and continue his takeoff then to throttle back and try to fix it.
    For example:
    Dash 2: "Two has lead" [Wingman tells his lead he has lead]
    Dash 1: "Two has lead" [Lead acknowledging dash 2 has the lead]

    Note: Dash 2 in the example above doesn't have to explain he is overshooting. If you are lead and you hear your wingman for any reason say he has lead, assume something is going wrong and give him lead then do what is needed to ensure the remainder of the takeoff roll is completed safely. .

    3.2.3. Climb Out.
    Climb out will be at 5 degrees nose up, 300 knots unless otherwise briefed. This will allow the flight to climb-out at a reasonable angle. If there is a turn to the first waypoint after takeoff, flight lead will make that turn within 3 miles of the runway. All flight leads should lead using the briefed formation (typically parade or cruise). All wingmen should use any turns the lead makes to help close the gap; You do not need to say anything on climb out - do not just head directly to the steer point to rejoin with lead. Instead, focus on rejoining with your flight lead. Once you are rejoined call "in position". Flight Lead Considerations During Climb Out. If you are flight lead, be mindful of your wingmen trying to rejoin. Do not make big turns greater than 30 degrees of bank unless it's for safety. Keep a consistent speed and attitude. Be predictable. Keep a consistent throttle setting and use pitch for airspeed until all ships are joined up. For example, do not go MIL power to maintain your 5 degrees nose up and 300kts. If you can't maintain 300kts at 5 degrees up without going to MIL power, adjust your pitch until you can.

    3.3 Cruise/Transit & Formation Flying

    3.3.1. Transit/Cruise. After all aircraft are in the pre-briefed formation for the departure flight lead may change the formation as needed or change the pitch and airspeed as needed. Now that the flight is formed up, your role as the wingman is to stay with your section lead and do as they say. If at any point you are having trouble keeping up or are unable to maintain the formation, speak up on AUX. You can ask lead to give you a little, meaning you are requesting he back off the throttle a little so you don't have to be afterburner to keep up.

    Note: Flight Lead does not have to call waypoint changes over the radio if you are flying the pre-briefed flight plan. If the flight is not deviating from the briefed flight plan, there shouldn't be any surprises when he gets to one waypoint that the flight turns to the next waypoint. Furthermore, you as the wingman should not be concerned with navigation. That is the responsibility of your lead. The only time a lead should communicate a waypoint change is that if it's a deviation of the briefed flight plan, or as a reference point such as to rejoin or use as an IP, holding point, etc... Responsibilities. During the transit portion of the flight, all wingmen will divide their attention between monitoring the lead aircraft to maintain the formation and keeping their head outside the aircraft on a visual lookout for any potential incoming threats as well as checking lead’s 6 O’ Clock. The lead is responsible for navigating, communicating to other flights, and using his sensors to look for threats (FCR, RWR, etc...). This does not mean that you remain silent no matter what as the wingman. If you see something important, speak up. For example, if you see a threat on your RWR and lead hasn't called it out, speak up on AUX. However, in most cases lead is your eyes for your sensors as your eyes should be on lead and looking outside the cockpit for threats.

    3.3.2. Formations. Below are the standard formations we use at the 1st VFW. It is not an exhausted list of all possible formations. Flight leads can brief different formations as needed, however, the formations listed below every 1st VFW member should know.

    Note: Keep this in mind for role responsibilities when flying formation. The Flight Lead (or simply Lead) is the Fighter responsible for all navigation, external comm, and mission/training objectives, and is the default for all tactical decisions. The wingman (Wing) is responsible for maintaining sight and staying in position. Both Fighters are responsible for good lookout doctrine, internal communications, and flight safety. Parade. The parade position is established by aligning the bottom wingtip light (located about in the middle of the missile rail) with the light on the LEX. Superimposing the two establishes a bearing line and step down. Proper wingtip clearance is set by reference to the exhaust nozzles. When the left and right nozzles are aligned so that there is no detectable curve to the nozzles, the reference line is correct. The intersection of the reference line with the bearing line is the proper parade position. Parade Turns.
    Parade turns are either standard (VFR) or instrument turns. During day VFR conditions, turns away from the wingman are standard turns. To execute, when lead turns away, the wingmen roll the aircraft about its own axis and increase power slightly to maintain rate of turn with the leader. Lateral separation is maintained by increasing g. Proper step down is maintained by keeping the leads fuselage on the horizon. Turns into the wingmen and all IFR or night turns in a parade formation are instrument turns. During instrument turns maintain a parade position relative to the lead throughout the turn. After initially joining up in echelon, three and four-plane formations normally use balanced parade formation. In balanced parade, number 3 steps out until the exhaust nozzles on number 2 are flush. This leaves enough space between number 3 and lead for number 2 to cross under into echelon. When it is necessary to enter IFR conditions with a three or four-plane formation, the lead directs the flight to assume fingertip formation. In this formation number 3 moves up into close parade on the lead. All turns are instrument turns. Cruise.
    The cruise position is a looser formation which allows the wingmen more time for visual lookout. Cruise provides the wingmen with a cone of maneuver behind the leader which allows the wingman to make turns by pulling inside the leader and requires little throttle change. The cruise position is defined by a line from the lead pilot’s head, through the trailing edge of the wingtip missile rail, with 10 feet of nose to tail separation. The wingmen are free to maneuver within the 70° cone established by that bearing line on either wing. In a division formation, number 3 should fly the bearing line, but always leave adequate room for number 2 and lead. Number 4 flies cruise about number 3. Fighting Wing. This formation, flown as a two-ship, gives the wingman a maneuvering cone from 30 to 60 degrees aft of line abreast and lateral spacing between 500 to 3,000 feet. Number Two maneuvers off lead and uses cutoff as necessary to maintain position. This formation is employed in situations where maximum maneuvering potential is desired. Arenas for use include holding in a tactical environment or maneuvering around obstacles or clouds. Fluid Four. Element leads fly line abreast, with wingmen in Fighting Wing or Wedge (as briefed) on the outside of the formation. Number Three maneuvers off Number One. Number Two and Number Four maneuver off their element leaders to maintain the outside of the formation. Element leads are responsible for deconfliction of elements when crossing the opposing element's 6 o'clock. At medium altitude, wingmen should stack away from the other element when turning. Spread / Line Abreast. Line Abreast formation is a position 0 to 20 degrees aft; 4,000 to 12,000 feet spacing; with altitude separation. At low altitude, the wingman should fly no lower than lead.
    . 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. The flight lead may tailor the parameters of this formation to meet particular situations or requirements. For example, in poor visibility conditions at low altitude, the wingman may be briefed to fly 4,000 to 6,000 feet lateral spacing. For certain A/A scenarios, the briefed lateral spacing may be 9,000 to 12,000 feet to enhance 6 o'clock visual coverage while complicating the enemy's visual acquisition of all aircraft in the formation. Wingmen need to maintain a formation position, that allows performance of other responsibilities and does not require them to concentrate 100 percent of their attention on flying formation. Each pilot must be in a position to detect an adversary converting on the wingman's stern prior to that adversary reaching firing parameters. Against an all-aspect, all-weather adversary this may not be possible. This formation allows element members to be in position to quickly bring ordnance to bear when a threat is detected. A vertical stack of 2,000 to 5,000 feet, when applicable, minimizes the chance of simultaneous detection by a bandit. Echelon (Left/Right). Echelon formation can be flown in either Route or Fingertip/Parade. If in Fingertip/Parade, turns will only be made away from the Echelon. If a turn into the Echelon is unavoidable, in Fingertip, use minimum bank. If in Route formation, and a turn is made into the Echelon, each aircraft will only stack down enough to keep the rest of the formation in sight and avoid their maneuvering plane. Lead should avoid excessive bank angles (don't bank more than 30 degrees unless absolutely necessary). On turns away from the Echelon, all aircraft will maintain the same horizontal plane and the same formation spacing as noted in the Parade formation information above. Offset Box / Offset Container. In Box formation (also referred to as Container), sections use the line abreast maneuvering and look-out principles. The trailing section takes 1.5 to 3 NM separation, depending on terrain and weather. The objective of the spacing is to give separation to avoid easy visual detection of the whole formation, while positioning the rear section in a good position to immediately engage an enemy converting on the lead element. Because the F/A-18 can be difficult to see from a direct trail position, a slight offset will facilitate keeping sight of the lead element. Use of A/A tactical air navigation (TACAN) between the elements, and the radar in the rear section, will help keep the proper spacing. Section leaders initiate formation maneuvers. Dash 3 maneuvers to achieve pre-briefed spacing on the lead section (based on threat, mission, and weather). Flight leads may modify wingmen position to Wedge or Fighting Wing if desired. Trail. This formation is flown in a cone 30 to 60 degrees aft of lead at a range briefed by the flight lead to accomplish specific requirements. Avoid flying at lead's high 6 o'clock and use caution not to lose sight of lead under the nose. If no distance is given, standard trail distance is 2 miles. Cross Unders.
    A cross under is either directed on the radio or as required to changed formations. Two-Ship. Dash two drops below and behind dash one and moves to the directed wing. No part of Number Two's aircraft passes below the lead's aircraft. Wingman should strive to pass less than one half ship-length behind the lead. Dash two should then assume the formation departed on the new wing. Multiship. When the dash two aircraft is required to cross under in a flight of three or more, dash three (or the element) will move out to allow dash two sufficient spacing to move into position. Dash two performs a normal cross under. Dash three will then move in on dash two's wing. When an element is required to cross under, the element will drop below and behind the lead (element) maintaining nose-tail and vertical clearance, cross to the opposite side, and then move up into position. Dash four performs a cross under on dash three after the flight has achieved nose-tail separation.

    3.3.3. Rejoins. Any rejoin requires an accurate appraisal of position and closure. Always remember the ABCs of formation flying (Altitude, Bearing, Closure). When rejoining fix your altitude first (i.e. don't be at the same altitude as your lead), then get on the bearing line, and then close in. The low-drag nature of the F/A-18 and relative ineffectiveness of small throttle changes in slowing down requires some anticipation for power reduction. The speedbrakes are effective in reducing overtake at normal flying airspeeds (300 knots and above). Turning Rejoins. In this maneuver, the lead will maintain 300 knots and 30 to 45 degrees of bank. Flight members maintain approximately 350 - 400 knots. Wingmen join to the briefed formation positions (usually Parade or Cruise for turning rejoins). Visual Reference. A visual reference for a normal turning rejoin line is to obscure the far wing tip with the top of the vertical tail; you may be forward (slower) or aft (faster) of this line depending on relative airspeeds. Keeping the lead aircraft slightly above the horizon and comfortably visible will avoid an endgame vector into lead, while allowing for a controllable overshoot. Radar Lock-On. A radar lock-on may be used during the rejoin to provide range and overtake information. Position. If you are dash 3 or dash 4, ensure that you are locked to the leader and stay visual with Number Two. Speed Reduction. As separation decreases to approximately 3,000 feet, reduce power smoothly to control overtake. At approximately 1,500 feet, overtake should be about 50 knots. Consider using the speedbrakes if overtake is excessive. Stabilize momentarily in route and then smoothly move into the Parade position. If overtake is excessive approaching the extended Parade position, initiate a controlled overshoot early enough to allow nose-tail separation. Straight-Ahead Rejoin. Lead should maintain 300 knots unless otherwise briefed. Number Two rejoins to the right wing, the second section rejoins per the briefed formation. Wingmen should strive for a radar lock due to the reduced closure cues at 0 degrees aspect. Flight members should maintain approximately 75 to 100 knots of closure until inside 3,000 feet. At this point make a slight turn to arrive at about 200 feet lateral spacing from lead, while reducing closure to less than 50 knots by 1,500 feet. Stabilize in route and then move in to Parade if no other formation is specified. Overshoots. If the overtake is excessive and cannot be controlled with power and speedbrakes, initiate an overshoot: turning and straight-ahead. Turning. If turning, reduce bank and slide to the outside of the turn while calling "[Your Dash #], stripped". Ensure nose-tail separation and pass behind and below the flight lead. Once line of sight (LOS) begins moving forward, perform a normal cross under to the inside wing. Stabilize in route and then move into Fingertip. Straight-Ahead. If straight-ahead, check away from the lead and stay slightly low on the formation and also make the call "[Your Dash #], stripped". Keep lead in sight, stabilize, and move back into position.

    3.3.4. Maintaining Position. The laws of physics that affect your position-keeping when flying in Combat Spread are the same laws that affect your position-keeping while flying in Parade. The only major difference is your ability to discern deviations due to the relatively large separation between you and your Flight Lead. A disciplined inside/outside scan is crucial to seeing deviations, but the real key to staying in position is basic air work; how long do you think you could stay in Parade position with five more knots than Lead, or two degrees difference in heading? While Spread is much farther from Lead than is Parade, the same principles of position-keeping apply. Scanning your fuel flow as much as your airspeed will pay dividends in keeping airspeed under control while attempting to maintain proper TACFORM positioning.

    1. Always lead acute or altitude corrections; be accelerating back to 300 KIAS before you hit bearing line while fixing an acute, and/or starting level-offs before you blow through altitudes.

    2. Never lead sucked or abeam distance corrections; wait until you drive all the way up to the bearing line from a sucked position before you climb to decelerate, and don’t turn to parallel Lead before you’ve driven in or out to the abeam distance that you need.

    Always think about energy conversion. Getting proficient at trading altitude for airspeed, and vice versa, will pay dividends in making smooth, expeditious, and efficient corrections while attempting to maintain Combat Spread. Maneuvers and corrections need to be timely and smooth. It is important to note that erratic and/or abrupt control inputs will just aggravate all involved. Learn to make smooth and controlled, yet aggressive corrections; sometimes a 7 unit AOA pushover will be required. Other times, rolling upside down and pulling will achieve the same result. Going up on a wing might also be used if applicable; whichever technique is used, be aware of what you are trying to achieve with the jet, and do it smoothly.

    3.3.5. Tactical Rejoin.
    The Tactical Rejoin gets the Fighters back into Parade formation prior to returning to base. It will be used following the initiation of the “Fence-out” comm as a final rendezvous. Whether executing from Combat Spread or not, turn the rendezvous into something you recognize. There are several ways to make the geometry work out; your instructors will give you different techniques. It is very important to keep sight of Lead. In general, as long as you are well clear of Lead you may maneuver your jet as you see fit to make this join happen. Within a half mile, never go ‘belly up’ for obvious safety reasons. As you are rendezvousing you can expect Lead to be at no less than 80% N2. If you find yourself in a CV rendezvous situation, execute the fundamentals (Altitude, Bearing and Closure), and use your speed brakes if necessary to avoid an underrun; this will be a safety issue in follow-on stages. If you find yourself in a Running Rendezvous but fail to execute the basics, you may find yourself in an ‘overrun.’ An overrun occurs when the Wingman flies past bearing line, ending up acute. If you find yourself driving to bearing line too fast, you may have to use the speed brakes to try and capture bearing line. If you are unable to stop on bearing line, simply take a slight cut away from Lead while you decelerate. From a slightly stepped out position, slide back to bearing line and continue to join.

    In all Tactical Rejoin situations, join all the way to Parade position. Tell lead you are in position and expect to execute Battle Damage Checks per the TACSOP.

    1st Virtual Fighter Wing
    VMFA-294 Standard Operating Procedures
    Certified for DCS World 2.5x
    Updated February 9th, 2019

    1.1 | Multiplayer Connection SOPs Application

    These standard operating procedures apply to all 1st VFW members and any event hosted by the 1st VFW.

    1.2 | Signing Up for a Flight
    All wing standard flights (recurring weekly flights) will be posted in our Flight Ops forum until we complete our new Air Tasking Order app. Flight sign-ups are always first-come-first-serve. Please keep in mind some roles, such as FAC(A), will require the applicable qualification so do not sign up for roles you are not yet qualified to take.

    If you are unable to attend a flight that you signed up for, please make a post in the forum in the flight thread, or via PM to the mission host. We understand things come up but it is proper etiquette at the 1st VFW to give the mission host a heads up so he/she doesn't wait for you before starting the mission. It's also recommended that if you are unsure if you can attend an event, do not commit to a seat until you know you can make it.

    1.3 | Pre-Flight
    Prior to beginning the connection process, check the forum to make sure that you have any briefing materials or files for the mission. Read the briefing before the flight. Be on time for the flight. It's recommended that you show up at least 15mins before the scheduled flight time to check for any new mission files, launch DCS and test your controls, and be ready for the mission host briefing. If you arrive after all the pilots have entered the 3D world, you will not be able to participate in the scheduled flight. Please do not make the host make the decision whether you can join late or not. Simply ask if the briefings are over, and if the answer is yes, please do not ask if you can join.

    1.4 | Test Your Controls
    We cannot stress enough how important it is that every member tests their controls before connecting to the server for a weekly standard flight. Do not put the host in a position where he has to restart the mission because you didn't check if your Track IR worked. The host may choose not to restart the mission and your flight lead may press on without you. It takes 5 minutes to test your controls before the mission. Sometimes things happen and you can quickly rejoin the mission after resolving the issue. However, doing a quick instant action training mission can greatly reduce the chances of you having a PC related issue.

    1.5 | Mission Commander Briefing
    When all checked in members of the mission are present in The Bar TS channel, the MC (Mission Commander) will start the mass briefing. This briefing will include the following:

    • Tactical overview for the mission
    • Mission objectives
    • Target assignments & Time on Target
    • Comms schedules
    • TACAN channel assignments
    • Friendly forces working in operating area (i.e. JTAC/Allied Ground/air forces etc.)
    • Threat assessments (air and ground)
    • Supporting airborne assets information (tankers/AWACS)
    • Weather updates
    • SPINS (Special Instructions)

    1.6 Connecting to the server / SRS Comms Check
    After the briefings have been completed, and the host is ready for people to connect, the host will say "Comms are up". This is your cue to go to the Multiplayer section of the DCS user interface, search for our server, and connect. The password is posted in the forum NOTAMs forum. Make sure you have a launched simple radio before launching DCS and entering the Multiplayer screen as our dedicated server will auto-connect to SRS when you connect to it.

    Once you are connected (in the Select Role screen where you can select your seat/jet), do not enter 3D until the host says everyone can commit to 3D. In the seat selection screen the host will make sure everyone that is signed up for the flight is present and ready to fly before we commit to 3D. When everyone is present, the host will complete a comms check using simple radio. This is done by each person in the select role screen saying their name using simple radio. It goes in order top to bottom.

    1.7 | Individual Flight Briefing
    Once the mission commander briefing is completed, everyone has connected to the server, and you've completed the comms check, individual flights will be moved to their respective channels on Teamspeak. This is to ensure that if there is a problem with communications in the flight, it can be handled locally instead of in a squadron wide channel. Once flight members are in the room, the flight lead will conduct a flight briefing.

    Flight briefing is to include the following:
    • Seat assignments
    • Individual target assignments & attack tactics (or Training Objective)
    • Marshal, taxi, takeoff, and push times and procedures
    • Departure Procedure
    • Cruise Parameter
    • Recovery (Patterns/expected recovery CASE 1/3, Overhead approach, etc.)
    • Abort Criteria / Contingency Planning

    1.8 | Committing to 3D
    After the host says to commit to 3D, you can click the briefing button and then the fly button. Once everyone is in 3D the host will un-pause the game (if needed). At this point you can begin your ramp start and begin to fly the mission as briefed. If you have any issues during this phase use Teamspeak to communicate them. Text chat is also available if the Mission Commander is not available in your Teamspeak channel.

    1.9 Rules on Respawning, Rearming, and Repairing
    Unless the mission commander briefs it, respawning or rearming is not permitted in weekly standard flights. There are some scenarios where it will be ok, such as 24/7 missions or longer events, but if it is ok it will be briefed or included in the event information. The reason for this is that most of our weekly standard missions have a set amount of time to run because most of our members cannot spend the entire day flying, therefore there isn't enough time for people to be able to respawn or repair your jet and fly all the way back to target. Rearming is permitted in weekly standard flights granted your flight lead approves it and you return to base with your wingman.

    2.0 | If you get shot down, crash or CTD
    Losing your jet:
    During the mission if you get shot down, crash, or eject, you are done for the mission. We strive for realistic mission scenarios and therefore you have one life per weekly standard mission. Again, there may be special events or 24/7 campaigns where respawning is ok, however in most of our weekly standard flights you will only have one life and should make it count. If you die, eject, or crash during a mission, you are permitted to back out whenever you like. However, you are still required to be present for the debrief. Therefore, you can hang out and surf the web while you wait, or ask a wing member to text you/message you on discord when the debrief is about to start. If you have to leave and cannot attend the debrief, let the mission host know so he doesn't wait for you before starting the debrief.

    Crash-to-Desktop or Technical Issues:
    During the mission if your game crashes (CTD) or you have a technical issue such as a control not working, etc... Let your flight lead know and he will determine if it is ok for you to back out and rejoin the mission. There may be some cases where you are not able to rejoin the mission. The reason for this is that delays can ruin the mission or cause people to back out because they have limited time.

    2.1. Debriefing
    All pilots who participate in a flight shall stay for the debrief. The purpose of the debrief is also not for a play-by-play of the entire flight; pick the things that are relevant and talk about them. Flights can do a quick debrief after the event on their respective Teamspeak channels before going to the main Debrief channel for the mass debriefing with all flights present. At the mass debriefing the Mission Commander (MC) will go first and state whether the mission was a success and cover any important aspects of the mission. After the MC completes his debrief, each Flight Lead will debrief going in event number order. The following is a good guideline for how to debrief:
    - Was your mission a success? If so, why? If not, why?
    - What did your flight do well?
    - What could we improve? Cover any deviations from standard operating procedures
    - What have you learned and how will you use that knowledge going forward.

    Try not to call out names and use callsigns. If you are providing constructive criticism to another pilot, such as pointing out an SOP he didn't follow, consider also covering something positive that pilot did. While our debriefs should always be candid, they also should always be respectful and in the spirit of us improving as a wing.

    2.2 | F10 Map Policy
    Until datalink is enabled in the F/A-18C, we allow mission hosts to show blue forces only on the F10 map. Pilots are allowed to view the F10 map whenever they need. Note, that once datalink is enabled, the wing may choose to hide all units on the F10 map.

    2.3 | Wing Server Rules
    All of the 1st VFW rules and regulations apply to flying on our wing dedicated server. For reference, view our rules page. In general, be respectful of people flying. Do not talk on Teamspeak after you have been shot down or are no longer participating in the mission. Do not spam the text chat. Do not give out our server, simple radio, or TS connection info to people outside of the 1st VFW.

    2.4 | Have Fun
    We at the 1st VFW enjoy taking full advantage of DCS from a tactical simulation standpoint, but at the end of the day this is a hobby and everyone should have fun. All of our SOPs are designed to balance the simulation and fun aspect so please do your best to help us achieve both objectives.

    2.5 | Suggestions or Questions
    If you have suggestions to improve our SOPs, please feel free to post them in our forum or bring them up during a debrief. We are always looking to improve our SOPs and make our fights more fun and more realistic while maintaining a stable consistent platform for online flying. Also, if you have any questions about our SOPs, please post them in the forum.