Air Combat Maneuvering
Before we can do any effective BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvering) against a bandit, we must drive our
airplane into his bubble. It is only here that we are able to create turning room and take it for position
advantage. Once inside this bubble, we optimize position advantage by maneuvering around the
bandits post. Pulling lead or pure pursuit ahead of the bandits post may yield a quick high-angle
gunshot, but it will also result in an in-close, high-angle overshoot, possibly costing you your offensive
position. Excessive lag to a point well-aft of the post will allow the bandit to generate more angles off
and possibly leave you stuck, without the rate required to get the nose on. Keeping lag pursuit until
reaching the post, followed by a max-performance turn to achieve lead/pure pursuit will maximize your
Once you have achieved a position within the bandits control zone, you can employ close-range
missiles, intimidate the bandit with your nose until he has bled himself down, or drive yourself into a
low-angle gun solution with controlled closure. In the Training Command, you have the added option
of sitting behind your bandit IP acquiring embarrassing HUD footage for use at some future date.
Sounds simple, doesnt it? It rarely is.
What happens when you misjudge your transition from lag to lead and find yourself turning in front of
the post? What if you hold lag too long? How do you react to a bandit who has better performance or
a higher energy state than you anticipated? Perhaps you reach the control zone with an energy
package that is too depleted to maintain your position. Where will the fight go in each of these
As we begin to study each set in depth, ask yourself these questions and attempt to visualize how
each fight will unfold. Pick up as much from as many different instructors as you possibly can. Maybe
more than any other phase of flying, ACM is an art form. Go out there and start developing your style!
If the angles being generated are controllable, continue to press for the gunshot. Anticipate aggres-
sive bandit maneuvering to defeat the shot. If you have pressed inside of the control zone, a more
aggressive lag maneuver will be required to preserve your offensive position.
SNAP GUNS EXERCISE
The TacForm gunsight tracking exercise provided you the opportunity to saddle up and hold the pipper
on a mildly maneuvering bandit. If the bandit knows you are there, you will rarely get a steady-state
tracking solution on an experienced bandit. Therefore, your only real opportunity for a kill in-close
may be with a snap guns shot. This exercise, depicted in Figure 10, familiarizes you with the snap
guns envelope and the difficulty in achieving it against a maneuvering bandit.
The bandit initiates the exercise from combat spread by transmitting, In as the target, and rolls into
you using a 45-60 degree AOB turn. You then transmit, In as the shooter, and immediately execute
a hard turn into the bandit.
As the bandit reaches your 10/2 oclock, reverse your turn and attempt to reach a snap guns solution
between 60 and 90 degrees AOT. As you approach the range for a shot, the bandit will execute a
maneuver out-of-plane to defeat your guns solution. Because you have only a short time to reach the
snap guns window, timing is everything. Delaying your reversal causes you to overshoot before you
even place the pipper on the bandit. Reversing early generates too many angles, causing you to miss
the envelope entirely. In either case, your attempt at a snap guns shot against a counter-maneuvering
bandit will result in a high TCA, causing you to overshoot. Immediately after the overshoot, both you
and the bandit return to the original heading in combat spread, ready to initiate subsequent attempts.