Skip to main content
Interviews & Interest

RAF acronyms and abbreviations.

By 16 January 2019April 30th, 2021One Comment

The 3 little letters RAF are just the beginning…

Whether you are in it, applying to be or just a big aviation fan you are bound to want to decipher some of the terminology you hear from pilots, crew and other members of display teams and frontline staff.

Ranks – who’s who starting from the top!

ACM – Air Chief Marshal

AM – Air Marshal

AVM – Air-Vice Marshal

AC – Air Commodore

Gp Capt – Group Captain

Wg Cdr – Wing Commander

Sqn Ldr – Squadron Leader

Flt Lt – Flight Lieutenant

Fg Off – Flying Officer

Plt Off – Pilot Officer

APO – Acting Pilot Officer

SENGO – Senior Engineering Officer

JENGO – Junior Engineering Officer

Circus 1 and Team Leader SENGO at ASALI


TLA’s -3 letter abbreviations (mostly)

ATC – Air Training Core – where it all begins for anyone with an interest in aviation

ATC – Air Traffic Control – Controllers of the airfield

AAR – Air to air refuelling -we tried this in the sim at RAF Waddington, its VERY hard!

AGM – Air to Ground Missile

BFJT – Basic Fast Jet Training

BVR – Beyond visual range – fighters use radar to targets they cannot see

CAS – Close Air Support – striking targets close to friendly forces

CAP – Combat Air Patrol – Fighters hold in the air to defend the air space

DWP – Dedicated warning panel – this is where emergency captions are shown in a Typhoon cockpit

DZ – Drop zone – where parachutists, eg RAF Falcons, land

ECM – Electronic Counter Measures – this is radar jamming and decoying

ESM – Electronic support measures – how fighters detect other radars

FAC – Forward Air Controller – man on the ground talking to fighters in CAS on the radio

FMS – Full Mission Simulator – 360 degree Typhoon simulator dome at RAF Coningsby

GBAD – Ground Based Air Defence – surface to air missile and gun systems

HAS – Hardened Aircraft Shelter – concrete hangars to protect aircraft from bomb attacks

HF – High Frequency – radio frequency used for long range comms, particularly over the Atlantic

IFF – Identification friend or foe

IFR – Instrument flying rules – used when the weather is NOT good enough for visual flying

IRT – Instrument Rating Test – annual test completed by pilots for instrument flying proficiency

JSF – Joint Strike Fighter – also known as the F35 at RAF Marham

LGB -Laser Guided Bomb

MOB – Main Operating Base

NBC – Nuclear Biological and Chemical

NVG – Night Vision Goggles – typically used for training weekly for the Chinooks and monthly for Typhoons

OCU – Operational Conversion Unit – eg 29 Squadron – aircraft specific training unit


POL – Petroleum Oil and Lubricants

QFI – Qualified flying instructor

QWI – Qualified Weapons Instructor

RPAS – Remotely Piloted Air System – also known as a UAV or Drone.

RTS – Release to Service – the rule book for aircraft operations

SAR – Search and Rescue

SH – Support Helicopters, eg Chinook

SRA – Surveillance Radar Approach

UAS – University Air Squadron


Display Flying Jargon

ENID – Red 1-5 in formation

GYPO – Red 6-9 in formation

Reds Rolling Now – phrase used by Red 1 for formation take off


Red Arrows Cardholder with cards inside and quote 'Reds rolling Now'

Smoke on Go – Order for Reds 2-9 to put their smoke on

Down for A Loop – get ready for the loop

Breaking – hard turn into the circuit to land

Threshold – when the jets get to the end of the runway

red arrows hawk jets lining up on the runway michelle middleton

Carousel – when synchro pair fly an opposition max rate turn against each other

#bringthenoise – Eurofighter Typhoon social media hashtag

#bladeslap – RAF Chinook Display team social media hashtag

Love the Red Arrows? Find out more about winter training and how they progress towards the season each year here.



One Comment

Leave a Reply