Flying tactical formation is a team effort requiring the wingman to share responsibilities with the lead.
The wingman also ensures section integrity by maintaining a good combat spread position.
An effective lookout doctrine is the cornerstone of mutual support, requiring each pilot to develop
and employ a thorough visual scan pattern outside the cockpit.
Coordinated scan patterns between lead and wingman in combat spread ensure maximum visual
coverage and allow sufficient reaction time to engage the bandit.
The threshold of visual detection depends on numerous factors, such as aspect, atmospheric
conditions, and background clutter. Focus your eyes on a distant pointa cloud or ground object
to give your eyes a depth of field from 1 mile to infinity. Pilots employing this technique significantly
increase their detection rates.
Alternate horizontal and vertical search patterns. A horizontal search pattern minimizes light
intensity variations, allowing your eyes to keep their light adjustment for a given horizontal sector. A
vertical search pattern causes your eyes to change their intensity adjustment. A vertical scan will
often cause a bandit on or below the horizon to stand out. Scan vertically no more than a 30-degree
segment of the total area at one time. Learn to scan in a definite pattern. Random searches
produce poor results.
The lead and wingmans primary lookout areas each extend from 30 degrees outside the formation
and sweep through the formation to the aft visual limit (Figure 2). Visual search beyond 30 degrees
outside the formation is a secondary responsibility for both lead and wing. Directly behind each
aircraft is a small unseen area referred to as the blind cone. The wingmans blind cone is visually
covered by the lead as part of his primary lookout responsibility. Conversely, the leads blind cone is
visually covered by the wingman as part of his primary lookout responsibility. Even an aggressive
scan meticulously executed within a section in combat spread leaves a mutual blind area formed at
the intersection of each aircrafts aft visual limit between 9,000 to 12,000 ft astern, varying with
differences in lateral separation between aircraft.