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Controller/Fighter Teamwork
It is crucial for the success of the mission to develop a strong working relationship between
the intercept controllers and the fighter aircrew. Many intercept problems can be attributed to a
breakdown in the radar picture, the loss of effective communications, and eroded teamwork
between the aircrew and the controllers. When these problems develop, they can, at the least,
result in bad setups and missed intercepts. At worst, these problems can cause the fighter to be
killed by an unseen or untargeted enemy aircraft, friendly assets to be destroyed by enemies who
slip through our fighter screens or "blue-on-blue" engagements.
Intercept controllers can direct the fighter to target certain high threat bogeys, and have
access to information from higher command authority. Proper exchange of this type of
information will allow rapid and correct decisions to be made in the air. Bear in mind that, while
the fighter aircrew are honing their tactical skills, the controllers are improving theirs also.
Professional briefs and debriefs between the fighter and the controller will improve team
effectiveness and emphasize the information the fighter needs to stay alive in the combat arena.
At certain times, working area constraints may present specific challenges. Area limitations
may require less than ideal setups and, at times, may require early termination of the intercept as
the fighter closes into firing range. Remember, if under positive control, the aircraft must remain
within the area or risk a flight violation. This may be particularly applicable when working in a
foreign defense zone. There are many countries that thrive on trying to embarrass the United
States by catching our aircraft with a boundary violation.
It is very important that the fighter have some knowledge of the capabilities and limitations
of the air intercept controller in order to develop a closer working relationship. Aircrew should
take the opportunity to get to know the air controllers to develop better teamwork in the air.
Often, a fighter squadron's reputation and effectiveness can be traced to their rapport with the
intercept controllers. This close working relationship will result in more successful intercepts in
Fortunately, at VT-86, your "Gritrock" controllers are almost always experienced fleet Navy
OSs. They are usually familiar with your capabilities and can anticipate any difficulties you
might have. You may not be as fortunate in an operational squadron. Control from an AWACS
or a Navy Aegis-class cruiser, with its more advanced radar systems, will be significantly better
than that of older platforms still in use.
Your training here and at the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) or Formal Training Unit
(FTU) will give you the necessary tools to perform flawlessly in the complicated arena of air

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