Flight commander

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The lefthand airplane in this formation is in the flight commander position. RNZAF Strikemaster (crop).jpg
The lefthand airplane in this formation is in the flight commander position.

A flight commander is the leader of a constituent portion of an aerial squadron in aerial operations, often into combat. That constituent portion is known as a flight, and usually contains six or fewer aircraft, with three or four being a common number. The tactical need for commonality in performance characteristics of aircraft usually insures that all aircraft under a flight commander's command and control in air operations are the same or very similar types.

Command and control or C2 is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... [that] employs human, physical, and information resources to solve problems and accomplish missions" to achieve the goals of an organization or enterprise, according to a 2015 definition by military scientists Marius Vassiliou, David S. Alberts and Jonathan R. Agre, The term often refers to a military system.

Historically, the role of a flight commander in fighter aircraft has been that of principal attacker in air-to-air combat, with the other airplane or airplanes in a flight supporting and protecting him from counter-attack as a wingman or wingmen. This delineation of roles came into being very early in the history of aerial warfare, as Oswald Boelcke, Roderic Dallas, and Mick Mannock all derived the basic tactics of successful air-to-air combat from their flying experiences during World War I c. 1916.

Wingman

A wingman is a pilot who supports another in a potentially dangerous flying environment. Wingman was originally the plane flying beside and slightly behind the lead plane in an aircraft formation.

Oswald Boelcke German First World War flying ace

Oswald Boelcke was a German flying ace of the First World War credited with 40 victories; he was one of the most influential patrol leaders and tacticians of the early years of air combat. Boelcke is honored as the father of the German fighter air force, as well as considered the "Father of Air Fighting Tactics".

Roderic Dallas Australian fighter ace of World War I

Roderic Stanley (Stan) Dallas, was an Australian fighter ace of World War I. His score of aerial victories is generally regarded as the second-highest by an Australian, after Robert Little, but there is considerable dispute over Dallas's exact total. While his official score is commonly given as 39, claim-by-claim analyses list as few as 32, and other research credits him with over 50, compared to Little's official tally of 47. Like Little, Dallas flew with British units, rather than the Australian Flying Corps. Beyond his personal combat record, Dallas achieved success as a squadron leader, both in the air and on the ground. He was also an influential tactician and test pilot. His service spanned almost the entirety of World War I fighter aviation.

The flight commander position has traditionally been held by a captain, naval lieutenant, or Commonwealth air force flight lieutenant, with the wingmen being both junior and subordinate to him. However, rank inflation has taken place in many air forces, and that rating may no longer hold true.

Lieutenant is a commissioned officer rank in many nations' navies. It is typically the most senior of junior officer ranks. The rank's insignia usually consists of two medium gold braid stripes and often the uppermost stripe features an executive curl.

Flight lieutenant Junior commissioned rank

Flight Lieutenant is a junior commissioned air force rank that originated in the Royal Naval Air Service and is still used in the Royal Air Force and many other countries, especially in the Commonwealth. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in non-English-speaking countries, especially those with an air force-specific rank structure.

In the Royal Naval Air Service of World War I, flight commander was the appointment for a lieutenant commanding a flight with its own rank insignia.

Royal Naval Air Service former air arm of the Royal Navy

The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was the air arm of the Royal Navy, under the direction of the Admiralty's Air Department, and existed formally from 1 July 1914 to 1 April 1918, when it was merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force, the world's first independent air force.

Flight commander is also the title of the officer commanding a ground-based flight, a platoon-sized unit in the United States Air Force, the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces.

Platoon Military unit size, usually composed of two of more squads or equivalent units

A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads/sections/patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but typically, per the official tables of organization as published in U.S. military documents; a full-strength U.S. infantry rifle platoon consists of 39 Soldiers or 43 Marines. There are other types of infantry platoons, depending upon service and type of infantry company/battalion to which the platoon is assigned, and these platoons may range from as few as 18 to 69. Non-infantry platoons may range from as small as a nine-man communications platoon to a 102-man maintenance platoon. A platoon leader or commander is the officer in command of a platoon. This person is usually a junior officer—a second or first lieutenant or an equivalent rank. The officer is usually assisted by a platoon sergeant. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer.

United States Air Force Air and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

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Fleet Air Arm aviation branch of the British Royal Navy

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) is one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. and is responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm recently started operating the F-35 Lightning II in a Maritime Strike Role, the AW159 Wildcat and AW101 Merlin in both Commando and Anti-Submarine roles, and the BAE Hawk. Helicopters such as the Lynx and Westland Wasp were previously deployed on smaller vessels since 1964, taking over the roles once performed by biplanes such as the Fairey Swordfish.

Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank.

Commander is a common naval and air force officer rank. Commander is also used as a rank or title in other formal organisations, including several police forces.

<i>Aide-de-camp</i> personal assistant or secretary to a person of high rank

An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant or secretary to a person of high rank, usually a senior military, police or government officer, or to a member of a royal family or a head of state.

Flight (military unit) military unit of about three to six aircraft or an equivalent-sized aviation-related element

A flight is a military unit in an air force, naval air service, or army air corps. It is usually composed of three to six aircraft, with their aircrews and ground staff; or, in the case of a non-flying ground flight, no aircraft and a roughly equivalent number of support personnel. In most usages, multiple flights make up a squadron. The "flight" is also a basic unit for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Foreign languages equivalents include escadrille (French), escuadrilla (Spanish), esquadrilha (Portuguese) and Schwarm (German).

Aerial warfare is the battlespace use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare. Aerial warfare includes bombers attacking enemy installations or a concentration of enemy troops or strategic targets; fighter aircraft battling for control of airspace; attack aircraft engaging in close air support against ground targets; naval aviation flying against sea and nearby land targets; gliders, helicopters and other aircraft to carry airborne forces such as paratroopers; aerial refueling tankers to extend operation time or range; and military transport aircraft to move cargo and personnel. Historically, military aircraft have included lighter-than-air balloons carrying artillery observers; lighter-than-air airships for bombing cities; various sorts of reconnaissance, surveillance and early warning aircraft carrying observers, cameras and radar equipment; torpedo bombers to attack enemy shipping; and military air-sea rescue aircraft for saving downed airmen. Modern aerial warfare includes missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Surface forces are likely to respond to enemy air activity with anti-aircraft warfare.

An executive officer (CCE) is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization. In many militaries, an executive officer, or "XO," is the second-in-command, reporting to the commanding officer. The XO is typically responsible for the management of day-to-day activities, freeing the commander to concentrate on strategy and planning the unit's next move.

Wing commander (rank) Commissioned rank in the RAF and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries


Wing commander is a senior commissioned rank in the British Royal Air Force and air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including many Commonwealth countries but not including Canada and South Africa. It is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. It ranks immediately above squadron leader and immediately below group captain. It has a NATO ranking code of OF-4, and is equivalent to commander in the Royal Navy and to lieutenant colonel in the British Army, the Royal Marines, and the US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Group captain Senior commissioned rank which originated in the Royal Air Force

Group captain is a senior commissioned rank in many air forces. Group captain has a NATO rank code of OF-5, meaning that it ranks above wing commander, immediately below air commodore and is the equivalent of the naval rank of captain and the rank of colonel in other services.

In military aviation, a wing is a unit of command. In most military aviation services, a wing is a relatively large formation of planes. In Commonwealth countries a wing usually comprises three squadrons, with several wings forming a group. Each squadron will contain around 20 planes.

Commanding officer officer in command of a military unit

The commanding officer (CO) or sometimes, if the incumbent is a general officer, commanding general (CG), is the officer in command of a military unit. The commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as they see fit, within the bounds of military law. In this respect, commanding officers have significant responsibilities, duties, and powers.

Gabby Gabreski American flying ace

Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski was a Polish-American career pilot in the United States Air Force who retired as a colonel after 26 years of military service. He was the top American and United States Army Air Forces fighter ace over Europe during World War II and a jet fighter ace with the Air Force in the Korean War.

A group is a military aviation unit, a component of military organization and a military formation. The terms group and wing differ significantly from one country to another, as well as between different branches of a national defence force.

Naval aviation air warfare conducted by forces under naval authority, or in direct support of naval operations

Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies, whether from warships that embark aircraft, or land bases.

John C. Meyer United States Air Force general

General John Charles Meyer was an American World War II flying ace, and later the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. SAC was the United States' major nuclear deterrent force with bombers, tankers and reconnaissance aircraft, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff coordinated the nation's nuclear war plans and developed the Single Integrated Operations Plan.

Air Vice Marshal Hugh Granville White, was a Royal Air Force air officer. He was a First World War flying ace credited with seven aerial victories, and later went on to serve throughout the Second World War, finally retiring in 1955.

Squadron (aviation) military aviation unit size

A squadron in air force, army aviation, or naval aviation is a unit comprising a number of military aircraft and their aircrews, usually of the same type, typically with 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes divided into three or four flights, depending on aircraft type and air force. Land based squadrons equipped with heavier type aircraft such as long-range bombers, or cargo aircraft, or air refueling tankers have around 12 aircraft as a typical authorization, while most land-based fighter equipped units have an authorized number of 18 to 24 aircraft.

Captain (United States O-6) rank in the United States uniformed services, O-6

In the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, captain is the senior-most commissioned officer rank below that of flag officer. The equivalent rank is colonel in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Air force military branch of service primarily concerned with aerial warfare

An air force, also known in some countries as an aerospace force or air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military branch that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army or navy. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic and tactical bombing missions, and providing support to land and naval forces often in the form of aerial reconnaissance and close air support.