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Battle Com Communication Brevity Codes

There are two distinctive types of Tactical R/T. They’re Directive, and Descriptive. Each has its own unique function and structure. The Directive radio call is just what it sounds like, you tell someone to do something. The Descriptive call is used to describe an event, status, or object. Here are examples of how each of these calls are ‘built’:

Directive: (Call Sign of whom you are talking to) + (Brevity Code words)

Example: "Wolf, Break left!"

Tells Wolf he is under attack and to break turn left

Descriptive: (Your Call Sign) + (Brevity Code words)

Example: " Spuds, Tally two left seven, slightly high!"

Says that Spuds has to enemy to the left rear (7 o’clock) a little high to his position

Directive calls, once the action is initiated, are generally followed by a Descriptive call. If, for some reason, the Directive call is not complied with, it should be issued again until it is. Only then should the accompanying Descriptive call be issued. In other words, get your wingman turning to negate the threat before you describe the situation to him. This would be a textbook example of a ‘combo’ Directive / Descriptive radio call:

Directive / Descriptive: (Call Sign of whom you are talking to) + (Brevity Code words) +

(Your Call Sign if required for clarity) + (Brevity Code words)

Example 1: "Wolf, BREAK left! (He begins his break turn) Bandit YOUR left seven, level."

The first part tells Wolf he is in trouble and to immediately turn. The break left will turn him into the attack. The second part tells Wolf the location of the bandit is to his left at 7 o’clock at his altitude

Example 2: "Wolf, hard right! Spuds tally two right three, level."

This says Wolf should make a hard turn to the right to face towards the two contacts on the right at 3 o’clock at same altitude that Spuds sees. Note the difference in terms – BREAK means you’re under attack – while hard means bandits inbound and turn to meet them.


The first and most important technique is to Think before you Talk. It is much more expeditious to pause a second, think about what you are going to say…Then key the mic and talk. The most common error I see is holding the mic button while the individual is thinking. This is what it sounds like : " ahh…um..ah Spuds …..ah em….. um…. Ah… POSIT is at …ah…umm…C34. A three second Descriptive R/T call just took three times as long as it should have! In a time critical environment this is UNSAT! Besides, It doesn’t even sound cool!!

Technique two is simple! Know your brevity code! That means the terminology and definitions!

Ok, we now understand the basics of R/T discipline and Brevity Code. Let's take a look at a few examples; the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Example 1 - "Spuds is engaged offensive with two Bogies, right two, low!"

There are a few big mistakes in this one! First is the basic structure. Too many unnecessary words. Brevity code’s primary function is to reduce the amount of talk it takes to convey an idea. The major error is improper Brevity Code terminology. A ‘Bogie’ is an UNKNOWN "N" key or visual contact. Why is he ‘Offensive’ on a possible friendly and / or neutral? . If ‘Spuds’ really means ‘Bogie,’ they may indeed be ‘Bandits,’ and you need to be cautious until you know, but the term ‘Offensive’ indicates he is maneuvering to engage. If I actually heard this, I’d assume he’d identified the contacts as adversary. A more correct version would be:

"Spuds engaged offensive! Two bandits left two, low! "


"Spuds engaged offensive! Tally two, left two, low!"

The word ‘Tally’ is short for ‘Tally Ho!’ … meaning you see ‘Bandits’… not an unknown ‘Bogie.’ ‘Tally Ho Bandits’ is redundant.

Example 2 - "Spuds visual Two left, low"

Huh? What does he mean by " left two"? Well, he most likely means "left ten" and has confused his "clock" position. This is exactly the reason USAF fighter units generally preface "clock" position with a "left" or "right" prefix. Studies have determined that most folks will correctly identify relative position (Left or Right) with a much higher accuracy rate than "clock" position. Misidentification of "clock" position increases aft of the 3-9 line. If you hear a call with an incongruent relative position versus clock position, you can almost always assume "clock" position is wrong. By the way, this radio call means that your wingman has two contacts identified as friendly at left 10:00, lower than your flight. Overall, it is actually a pretty good radio call, and most people would understand the intent and meaning.

OK, here comes the final exam. Translate the following brevity code and determine what is good or bad about it:

Example 3 - "Spuds tally, visual, press!"

This is a textbook example demonstrating how much can be said with very few words. This simple line translates into: I have you in sight, I see the bandit, I am in a position to support you, I am supporting you, your six is clear...continue your attack. This would typically be used when the flight lead engages offensively on an unwary bandit and the wingman’s sole responsibility is to support and protect his lead.


You now know basically everything required to effectively communicate in the tactical arena. Like all learned skills, practice will make you proficient. The next time you’re hooked up on BC, concentrate on the proper use of brevity code. I think you will find the effort worthwhile. I have included a list of the most common words useful for us. This list is by all means not a complete list; a lot of brevity code words are not really useful in flight simulation and I have added other unique to Red Baron.

Check six... see you on the "radio."





Modified for working within the meanings of Red Baron

ABORT: Directive commentary to terminate. Applicable to a specific attack maneuver or entire mission.

ACTIVE: Denotes an aerodrome that is in use or occupied

ANCHOR: Begin an orbit at a specific point or location.

ANGELS: Altitude expressed in thousands of feet. Angels 5 means 5,000 ft. (unless specified by pilot altitude is in feet)

BANDIT: Known enemy aircraft. Only used when the contact is confirmed hostile.

BELLY CHECK: Directive commentary to instruct recipient to roll over and check for bandits underneath him.

BENT: Inoperative or ‘bent’ part or system. " Spuds rudder bent"

BINGO: Out of fuel.

BLIND: Lost contact with friendly aircraft. The opposite of this is VISUAL.

BOGEY: An unknown contact.

BOGEY DOPE: A request for information about a specific target or threat.

BRACKET: Indicates geometry where aircraft will maneuver to a position on opposing sides of a given point / target, either laterally / vertically/ or a combination of both. Basically, it is a relatively short-range pincer maneuver.

BREAK: (Up/Down/Right/Left) – Directive to perform a an immediate defensive maximum performance turn..

BREVITY: Denotes radio frequency is becoming saturated and more concise/less R/T transmissions should be used.

BUG OUT: Separate from the engagement and head for a safe area or home.

CLEAN: No contacts, i.e. your ‘N" key is clean.

CLEARED: A target or geographic area has been checked and is clear of enemy

HOT: A target, drome or geographic area that is occupied by enemy aircraft

CLOSING: Bandit/bogey is decreasing its range.

COLD: Pointed away from the anticipated threats.

COMMITTED/COMMIT: Intent to engage/intercept.

CON/CONTACT: "N" key contact; should include bearing, range, altitude (BRA) and geographic position information.

CONTINUE: Continue present maneuver or action

COVER: 1) Directive to pilot protect a target/flight; or 2) the pilot protecting the shooter

DEFENSIVE: Subject is in a defensive position and maneuvering with reference to the threat.

DRAG/DRAGGING: (Direction) – Drawing bandit(s) on your 6 in a certain direction

ENGAGED: Maneuvering with respect to a threat or target in order to kill or negate an attack.

EXTEND: (Direction) – Directive to temporally depart the immediate ‘fight’ location with intent to re-engage.

FADED: contact is lost or has ‘faded’ from your "N" key.

FAST MOVER: denotes aircraft with faster flight speeds that are normally less maneuverable - B&Z’er

FEET WET/DRY (friendly/hostile): Entering or leaving the mud/trenches. The addition friendly/hostile denotes which side you just entered or which direction through the mud you are headed.

FLOAT: spread out normally done prior to bracketing or engaging a target

FLANK/FLANKING (left or right): 1) friend or foe is in the 4/5 or 7/8 position In relation to the aircraft; or 2) vectoring around a point to approach from an undefended/unexpected angle

GORILLA: A large number of unknown contacts.

HARD LEFT/RIGHT: Directive call to initiate a High-G, energy sustaining turn. Generally used when entering a fight offensively.

HIGH: Target altitude at or above 7,000 feet MSL.

HOLDING HANDS: Aircraft together in a coordinated visual formation.

HOME PLATE: Home airfield.

HOT: denotes an enemy drome , target or geographic area is defended

JOKER: identifies an aircraft as a scout

KILL: Commit and kill specified target.

LINE ABREAST: A side-by-side formation.

LOCKED: friend or foe is locked via the Shit+D key

LOW: Target altitude below 3,000 feet MSL

MEDIUM: Target altitude between 3,000 and 7,000 feet MSL.

MERGE/ MERGED: Bandits and friendlies are in the visual arena

NO JOY: Lost or no visual contact with the target/bandit; opposite of TALLY.

PAINT: "E", "F" or "N" key interrogation return.

PICTURE: Situation briefing provides a general tactical overview.

POSIT: Request for a position report.

PRESS: Continue the attack; mutual support will be maintained.

RTB: Returning to base

SEPARATE: Leaving a specific engagement.

SHOOTER: Aircraft that will employ ordnance or ‘shoot’

SLOW MOVER: a slower type aircraft - normally bombers or turn fighters

SLUG: identified an aircraft as a bomber

SNAP: (object, destination, location.) – An immediate vector to the requested target or geographic point.

SPASH/SPLASHED: Enemy aircraft destroyed

SPITTER: (Direction) – An Aircraft that has departed from the engagement.

STACK: Two or more groups with a high/low altitude separation.

STATUS: Request for an individual’s tactical situation; generally described as "offensive," "defensive," or "neutral."

STINGER: Formation with single Bogey/Bandit in trail.

SWEEP: clear a target of enemy defenders

SWITCH/SWITCHED: Indicates an attacker is changing from one aircraft to another.

TALLY: Bandit in sight; opposite of "NO JOY."

TARGET: Denotes any asset that is designated for destruction

TRAIL: Formation of two or more aircraft following one another.

TRAILER: The last aircraft in a formation.

TRASHED: target destroyed

TUMBLEWEED: Indicates limited situation awareness, no tally, no visual, a request for information.

VACANT: Denotes an aerodrome this is NOT in use or occupied

VISUAL: Friendly aircraft in sight; opposite of "BLIND."

WEEDS: Very low altitude.

WINCHESTER: Assumed to be no ammo unless followed by "ordinance." (bombs and rockets)