TRANSITIONING FROM CLOSE FORMATION TO COMBAT SPREAD
After visually checking the area clear, the lead usually advises the wingman of his heading, altitude,
and airspeed, and then signals the wingman to assume combat spread by pushing his palm out and
away. At the signal, the wingman goes to MRT, accelerating to a 10-15 kt airspeed advantage, and
takes a cut away from the lead to establish a 10-15 degree heading differential. He varies pitch and
AOB to arrive 3/4-1 nm abeam with 1,000 ft of vertical separation.
A common tendency of the wingman while moving into position is to take too great or quick a cut to
combat spread, resulting in a sucked position. Patience is the key. If you find yourself looking
directly down your 3/9 line or forward, correct immediately by reducing your heading differential and/
or varying your rate of climb and/or airspeed to maintain bearing.
COMBAT SPREAD STRAIGHT AND LEVEL
While flying combat spread straight and level, the wingman must maintain position, giving priority
first to the abeam bearing, second to lateral distance, and third to vertical separation. To determine
the abeam position, the wingman looks straight out over his shoulder on a 90-degree relative
Once abeam, the wingman should match the leads airspeed by adjusting power and nose attitude
for level flight. The gouge for straight and level combat spread is approximately 1,800 pph to
maintain 300 KIAS.
To remain in combat spread, the wingman must employ a continuous inside/outside scan. Look
inside to scan heading, airspeed, and altitude and outside to check the leads position and scan his
primary/secondary lookout areas.
If the wingman is sucked or acute, close or wide, the lookout suffers, increasing the sections
vulnerability to attack. Whenever necessary, trade altitude for airspeed to maintain bearing.
If the wingman is sucked, he should lower the nose, add power, and accelerate until arriving on the
abeam bearing. When on the bearing line, raise the nose to maintain the bearing and readjust
power for 300 KIAS. During this climb, the indicated airspeed will be in excess of 300 KIAS. By
raising the nose and climbing on the bearing line, the wingman increases his altitude and decreases
his airspeed while maintaining position with the lead. The wingman may lose as much altitude/
airspeed as necessary to regain the bearing line.
If the wingmans position is acute, he pulls the nose up and reduces power. Approaching the bearing
line, he lowers the nose and resets his power to arrive on the bearing at 300 KIAS.
In an acute and wide/close position or a very acute position, the wingman goes to MRT and executes
a series of hard turns at 11 units and at least 30 degrees off heading in the direction necessary to
regain position. He then returns to the original heading and readjusts power when in position, being
careful not to overcorrect, which may lead to a sucked position.