CAS / FAC – Pt.01 – Intro
To ensure safe operation with multiple aircraft over a target area, a FAC can provide the necessary control. This control is executed in a fashion similar to ATC. There will be clearances provided by the FAC which requires readback and there will be information back and forth that do not.
So CAS stands for Close Air Support. This term, in DCS, is widely abused so here’s a loose definition:
CAS are combat operations conducted by aircraft in some proximity to friendly ground or helicopter units.
An important factor in this, is the proximity which is not to be confused with Danger close. Danger close is a clearance that is to be given by a FAC when ordnance is deployed within dangerous limits (depends on the ordnance but think within 1nm). In DCS, we will almost never use this because of the nature of ground AI behaviour.
FAC stands for Forward Air Controller. This is either someone on the ground, or it could be someone at base on the radio that provides the control and the necessary clearance. FAC(A) is mostly used within 11TSG because it stands for FAC(Airborne). This can be in any aircraft.
To elaborate on this, the FAC will need multiple functions to be fulfilled. In some cases, like in a scout helicopter or in an aircraft with a Targeting Pod overhead, all these roles can be conducted by the same person. In other cases, when there is no-one FAC qualified in the direct area, the FAC can be supported by Ground Commanders providing the information and the talk-on required while the FAC is still exerting control and providing the clearance.
Before starting with this content, it is expected that the candidate has completed the RTC (both T and P) and is flight lead capable.
Radio experience and communication proficiency are advised as it is a a lengthy communication procedure.
Talking to a FAC is similar to talking to an ATC. They are the person to talk to on that frequency. This is why the callsign of the FAC can be omitted once contact has been established.
In the procedure, the communication is on top of the flying already done by both the CAS and the FAC. Remember the priority: Aviate -> Navigate -> Communicate
The FAC / CAS calls are never more important than you keeping your aircraft in the air and in a safe position.
Because of this, the term Unable and the term Wilco are very important.
If the FAC says: “<callsign>, advise ready check-in” and you are not ready, simply say “Wilco, <callsign>”
When there are more CAS aircraft available, be sure to listen closely when its your turn and be ready for it.
It is a shame if right when your talk-on is starting, you are on the outbound leg of your holding.
Lastly, some people are able to do all this by heart, other make notes on a kneeboard, notepad or with a different solution.
What ever works for you, make sure you use it.
Below is the flowchart for a FAC routine with once aircraft.
The flowchart is the basic flow. There are, of course, variations possible.
CAS aircraft position flow
As a CAS aircraft, you start off at a pre-briefed holding point. Here you hold in accordance to briefed information (restrictions, altitudes, etc.). You are to hold here until you have received the holding instructions after the Check-in.
From receiving the holding instructions, you are to move to the CP and set up a hold at your own discretion. Limiting parameters are the block-restrictions given in het holding instructions and the CP distance (C10) is a minimum distance that is to be upheld. Also, you are not to drift out further than a 45° from the Echo to CP to either side
TODO: Insert image here
So from there, you are to stay at the CP until you have your target and are cleared in with the “Report IP inbound” call by the FAC.
From here, you are to fly to the IP, make the correct calls, do the attack and move back to the CP.