CAS (Close Air Support) is the more deadly part of fixed wing. Responsible for scouting ahead of the boots on the ground all the way to ensuring a safe air space for operations to continue, Fixed Wing CAS is deadly at nearly any range.
- Aircraft type - with fixed wing you have two main types of airframes you will be using:
- Air Superiority - Responsible for securing the airspace around an AO. Best used for Air to Air combat, but still commonly used to attack ground targets with bombs and rockets.
- Ground Attack - This airframe is ideal for supporting troops on the ground. Where it lacks in speed it makes up with firepower, able to carry not only more munitions but far more powerful ones.
- Weapon types
- Canons - This is the aircraft's main gun used to engage soft targets like infantry and light vehicles. Larger caliber round like the A-10s GAU-12 are capable of destroying heavily armed targets such as MBT (Main Battle Tanks).
- GPBs - These can be laser or GPS guided bombs ranging from 500 to 2000 lbs. Used for causing a wide area of damage the larger ones capable of destroying entire enemy bases where the smaller ones are ideal for destroying enemy vehicles or groups of infantry.
- AGMs - These can be either laser, heat seeking, or radiation guided rockets. Suited for engaging single targets such as enemy armor.
- AIMs - These serve a singular purpose of engaging other air assets. They can be either active radar or heat seeking.
- Dumbfire - These weapons lack any kind of guidance system and must be fired directly at the enemy. Weapons like the Hydra missile are used for engaging groups of enemy infantry
- RTO/JTAC - The pilot and RTO/JTAC work hand in hand during official operations. They are the direct line to the troops on the ground and command. The JTAC will provide the pilot with most if not all of their fire missions. The pilot will also be relaying information he/she sees to the RTO/JTAC to better assist command.
The pilot will be receiving their “5 lines” for engaging targets on the ground as follows:
- Target description
- Target location
- Marker type
- Weapon requested
Here we will discuss the risks to fixed wings and the tactics used to ensure the pilots safety. You may be feel safe all the way up in the sky, but be assured you have a targets painted on your back.
- Types of threats
- Missile Systems - including SAM Sites and Man Portable Air Defense Systems (“MANPADS”), can lock onto your aircraft and deal critical damage upon impact, ending your flight abruptly. Combined with evasive maneuvers, countermeasures can help you escape a missile’s lock, but it’s safer to identify the area in which enemies have these systems and establish a No Fly Zone (NFZ).
- Small Arms Fire - Medium Machine Guns (MMG) and Heavy Machine Guns (HMG), may not pose as great a threat as true Anti-Air systems, but should still be treated with caution. On low approaches with plans for gun runs they can be highly vulnerable to damage from a well placed HMG, and any enemy on the ground can potentially shoot an exposed pilot from their own cockpit. Keep these risks in mind and avoid giving the enemy such an attack of opportunity.
- Anti-Air Cannons - including the armored ZSU-23-4 (“Shilka”) and the static ZSU-23-2 (“Zeus”), will deliver massive damage to any aircraft. Though low risk when at high altitudes these weapons pose a significant threat the lower you are, and especially when doing low approaches for gun runs.
- Enemy aircraft - this will be your greatest threat in the air, it is recommended to engage aircraft at a distance to minimize the threat to your safety. Seeing how they have the same effectiveness as you this may prove difficult and you may need to engage with cannons in a dog fight.
- Tactics - an easy way to avoid enemy defense is the use of certain tactics and maneuvers.
- Correct approach - it is important to maintain communication with the RTO/JTAC, they will keep you informed on threats on the ground and can guide you on the correct path to evade enemy defenses.
- Using environment - when ground attacking you are typically lower in altitude which will allow you to use the terrain in aiding in attacking your Target. Flying in valleys and behind mountains will help protect you from AA defenses in other locations.
- Ground support - never forget that you're not alone out there, you still have allies on the ground that can assist you when needed. Ground forces can move in to eliminate air defences that are preventing you from entering the area. They may even have access to air defense themselves and can easy aid in neutralizing enemy fast movers.
- Countermeasures - when the enemy does manage to get the better of you and has launched a missile at you your countermeasures are you final solution to ensure your safety. Fixed wing has two main means of countermeasures
- Flares - these will be the most common means of evading enemy missiles.when deployed the flares burn at an entains heat causing in the incoming heat seeking missile the engage them instead. They should only be deployed at the last couple of seconds before the missile impacts to ensure evasion.
- ECM - electronic countermeasure (ECM) is an electronic device designed to trick radar, sonar and other detection systems. This should be activated when you notice something is locking onto your aircraft, it will confuse the long enough for you to get out of the area.
This portion of the guide will list the different levels of qualification within the Fixed Wing School and the standards for each.
Fixed Wing Transportation Qualification
This is the first level of Fixed Wing qualification, those that complete the test will be allowed to pilot unarmed planes in official operations, performing insertions, extractions and logistics. Pilots may also be a pilot a gunship bit cannon use the weapons
Prerequisite: The trainee must have completed RTO/JTAC training
The trainee will be provided with unnamed transport plane
- Takeoffs and landing - Trainee will need to demonstrate the ability to take off and land with the provided aircraft.
- Logistics - Trainee will need to demonstrate the ability to drop supplies reliably at an altitude of 1000 meters or higher.
- Defense evasion - Trainee must demonstrate the ability to evade enemy air defenses. Trainee will be allowed up to three attempts to evade with no more than five enemy air defenses.