Common Acronyms

This page is dedicated to answering your questions about commonly used Air Force acronyms, along with a very brief explanation what it is. I’ve uploaded some relatively official guidance that we use for performance reports as well. 2005 USAFE-approved Acronyms

ACM – Air Combat Maneuvering.  A type of air combat practice flying where you maneuver a two-ship element in relation to one or two adversaries. 

BFM – Basic Fighter Maneuvers.  Dogfighting, if you will; mano v mano.  This involves the most aggressive maneuvering where both adversaries push themselves and their jets to the limits of endurance. 

BSA – Basic Surface Attack.  Flying to the range and dropping 25-lb practice bombs and practicing strafing.  Some aircraft practice with other ordnance like forward-firing rockets (FFAR)

HMCS / (J)HMCS – (Joint) Helmet-mounted Cueing System, a system which allows flightpath data and targeting data to be displayed on the helmet visor, allowing the pilot to maintain awareness of aircraft performance while scanning outside the cockpit

ILS – Instrument Landing System, a system of direction-finding radios and antennae at the runway, which along with certain aircraft instruments, the pilot can use to arrive at a point in space from which he can land the aircraft without seeing the runway until just prior to landing

LINK-16 – (I’ll have to look that one up myself). The inflight datalink found on most USAF aircraft

NVG – Night Vision Goggles

SAT – Surface Attack Tactics

SEAD – Suppression of Enemy Air Defense

SFO – Simulated Flameout Overhead, a type of pattern designed to allow a single-engine F-16 to practice or accomplish a landing without an operating engine

TACAN – Tactical Air Navigation, a series of worldwide UHF navigation beacons which a direction-finding instrument in the aircraft can use to home in on a given beacon and navigate in relation to it. TACAN includes distance-measuring equipment (DME). There is also an air-to-air mode, most aircraft can exchange DME, some can exchange bearing as well

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