UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Chapter 1

Evaluate the Battlefield

This chapter describes how the unit uses the IPB process to assist in executing and integrating air defense into combat operations. This is especially true in special staff sections and units outside the combat arms. The particular needs of these elements require a slightly different focus in the application of the IPB process due to their mission requirements. At the very least, these products must be refined to meet the particular needs of staff or unit that will use them. Primarily, the S2 is responsible for IPB.



1-1. In defining the battlefield environment, one must take into account the actual and possible limitations of the third dimension-the element of altitude. Some areas to consider are-

  • Location of threat airfields and launching points.
  • Range of aircraft and missiles.
  • Physical constraints in the friendly AO.
  • Buildings and other structures.
  • Power lines and antennas.
  • Hills, trees, and other natural barriers to movement and observation.
  • Weather.

1-2. The overall structure of the battlefield, at the tactical level of war, consists of the area of interest, battlespace, the area of operations, and battlefield organization. This provides the commanders a way to associate their forces to the enemy in terms of time, space, and purpose.



1-3. The area of interest is that area of concern to the commander. It is the geographic area and airspace above it from which information and intelligence are required to successfully conduct the commander's operation. This area also includes areas occupied by enemy forces who could jeopardize accomplishment of the mission.



1-4. Battlespace is a physical volume that expands or contracts in relation to the ability to acquire and engage the enemy. It varies in width, depth, and height as the commander positions and moves assets over time. Battlespace is not assigned by a higher commander and can extend beyond the commander's area of operations.



1-5. The area of operations is the geographic area, including the airspace above, assigned to a commander in which he has responsibility and the authority to conduct military operations. It is usually defined by lateral, forward, and rear boundaries assigned by a higher commander.



1-6. The commander arranges and synchronizes the battlefield activities throughout his AO to accomplish deep, close, and rear operations simultaneously. The objective is to attack the enemy simultaneously throughout the depth of the battlefield. As a result of battlefield organization, the commander can accomplish the mission more effectively and efficiently.



1-7. Identify the effects of the battlefield on friendly and enemy courses of action. Specific considerations include-

  • Likely air avenues of approach.
  • Target areas or installations.
  • Possible LZs and DZs.
  • Location of ADA weapons and radars.
  • Standoff ranges.



1-8. A good air avenue of approach will permit maneuver while providing terrain masking from surface-to-air weapon systems. Some common air avenues of approach are valleys, direct lines from the enemy point of origin, and riverbeds. Determine air courses of action by acquiring the supported command's basic IPB products, including situation templates. Evaluate the general course of action they portray and determine how the threat might support them with air power. Do not attempt to determine air course of action in isolation from the maneuver forces they support. Use the following factors to determine air avenues of approach, both ingress and egress:

Type of Air Threat, Attack Profile, and Ordnance


1-9. UAVs are small and elusive. They usually fly low, but the altitude can vary. Once in the target area, they may fly an orbit attempting to stay out of engagement range of ADA. Most surface-launched cruise missiles follow the terrain and use terrain masking. Due to their range, they may take indirect approach routes. Ballistic missiles are not terrain-dependent. They fly from launch point to objective. Their flight is not restricted by terrain. Tactical air-to-surface missiles usually fly direct routes from launch platform to the target. Rotary-wing aircraft primarily conduct contour flights. They follow ridgelines and military crests, using the terrain to mask their approach to the target area. Fixed-wing aircraft usually follow major terrain or man-made features. Depending on range, they may fly a straight line to the target. Ordnance or payload may affect range and altitude of the air system and, thus, influence the selection of avenues of approach for airborne and air assault operations.

Air Threat Point of Origin and Ground Control Radar Positions


1-10. When determining air avenues, the staff looks at the commander's entire area of interest. Analysis begins at the threat airfield, UAV, or missile launch site and works toward the probable enemy objective. This allows the commander to look at the big picture. The staff considers the range of the air systems and location of navigation aids and ground control sites.

Probable Threat Objective


1-11. Each avenue of approach must end at a target, drop zone, landing zone, or within reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance or target acquisition range of a target. Reverse IPB is used to pick threat objectives.

Potential to Support Maneuver Forces


1-12. Air assets, which are used to achieve ground objectives, will seek to use air avenues of approach coincident with ground avenues of approach. Air assets attacking deep are not limited to these ground avenues. Ground corridors do not limit missiles and RISTA UAVs.

Freedom to Maneuver


1-13. Does the avenue of approach-

  • Canalize the air system?
  • Have access to adjacent avenues?
  • Provide the ability to acquire a target and use available munitions?
  • Assist in navigation?

Protection for the Air System and Pilot

  1-14. Does the avenue provide the following:

  • Terrain masking (cover and concealment)?
  • Full use of air system speed?
  • Protection against radar detection?
  • Protection from air defense weapon systems and tactical air support?
  • A standoff orbit location?
  • A standoff orbit?

Air Threat and Pilot Capabilities


1-15. Can the air system or pilot do the following:

  • Perform contour flying?
  • Fly at night?
  • Fly in all weather conditions?
  • Range the targets?

Cloud Cover and Ceilings


1-16. Cloud cover and ceilings may restrict operations by setting low operational ceilings and restricting visibility and target engagement. Low ceilings, overcast, and clouds may restrict visually-directed ADA weapons' detection and acquisition ranges.



1-17. Extreme temperature and humidity have a severe effect on aircraft and UAVs by decreasing combat range, altitude (particularly rotary-wing aircraft), and ordnance loads.



1-18. Evaluating target value determines what targets are to be labeled as high-value targets. High-value targets are assets the enemy or friendly commander has deemed as important for the successful accomplishment of his mission. High-value targets are determined by operational necessity and weapon system capability.



1-19. Threat evaluation for air operations consists of a detailed study of enemy air capabilities, organization, and doctrine. The following steps should be used when evaluating the threat:


  1-20. When analyzing threat doctrine data, include the commander's critical information requirements and priority intelligence requirements. Use the following questions as a guide in establishing threat information:

  • What are the major strategic, operational, and tactical objectives of the enemy's air operations?
  • Which objectives may be targeted for destruction or suppression?
  • Where do friendly air defense assets fit into the enemy's objectives? Do they need to be destroyed or suppressed for the enemy plan to work? (Answers to these two questions may result in modification to air avenues of approach.)
  • What is the enemy's air order of battle? How are the assets organized? (Knowledge of threat organization and who has operational control will indicate the importance of the area of operations. For example, if the enemy's bombers are at theater level and are in the area of operations, then that area is probably receiving the theater's main attack.) What is the size of the enemy's ballistic missile brigade, battalion, and battery? Does it fire as a unit? Does the threat have mobile, fixed, or both types of launchers?
  • Who has tactical control of aircraft at the point of attack?
  • How will UAVs and cruise missiles be used; for example, RISTA, attack, or battle damage assessment? What are the associated profiles?
  • How does the enemy doctrinally attack? Will the enemy use airborne, air assault, or special operations forces in conjunction with an air or ground attack? What sizes are these forces and to what depth are they used? Will the enemy synchronize the air attack? Does the enemy have the capability to coordinate an air attack (possibly with varied air threat platforms that can overmatch friendly air defense capability)?
  • What are air system combat ingress and egress speeds?
  • Where are missile and UAV launch points? What are the range, endurance, and profile of these systems?
  • What are the doctrinal distances for forward arming and refueling points? If the enemy's maximum range falls short of the area of operations, where is the enemy likely to stop and refuel or be aerially refueled? Does the enemy possess an aerial refueling capability?
  • How and where will the enemy attack ground targets for interdiction?
  • At what altitude will the enemy approach the target, deliver munitions, and exit the target area?
  • What is the release authority of certain types of ordnance? This is particularly important when dealing with NBC threats.
  • How does the enemy employ reconnaissance assets?
  • How has the enemy historically fought? What has the enemy learned from our most recent adversary?



1-21. ADA units analyze and evaluate air threat capabilities by providing answers to the following questions.



1-22. What are the enemy's capabilities regarding-

  • Coordination of air-to-ground attacks?
  • Coordination of air and artillery operations? Are ground forward air controllers used?
  • Suppression of friendly air defense?
  • Performance (speed, altitude, airfield restrictions, troop and weapon load capacity)?
  • Endurance and range (ingress and egress altitudes and speeds)?
  • Levels of combat readiness and sortie generation rate?
  • Ability to conduct pop-up maneuvers. What is the standoff range?
  • Target acquisition capability, night and adverse-weather capability, and identification ranges?
  • Standoff ranges for cruise and tactical air-to-surface missiles?
  • Ordnance load (maximum weight, type, load mixture, and level of sophistication)?
  • Combat personnel load?
  • Navigational capability (type of radar; can it fly at night or in adverse conditions)?
  • Combat radius (with or without external tanks, ordnance, and location of staging bases)?
  • Loiter time (how long will it have on station over the target area)?
  • Countermeasures. For example, will standoff jammers, ground-based jammers, reconnaissance or chaff laying UAVs, or aircraft degrade friendly air defense systems?
  • Type, quantity, and quality of training the pilot received?
  • How much they conform to doctrine?
  • Ability of pilots to fly at night or perform contour flying? During peacetime, did the pilot conduct the type of mission expected to be conducted during war?
  • Type of threat ordnance evaluated as follows:
  • Range: Assume engagement at maximum range and two-thirds maximum range.
  • Accuracy.
  • Release altitude. How high or low must the aircraft fly?
  • Reload and refire time. What is the number of missiles available?
  • Warhead type (for example, mass casualty, conventional, and submunitions).
  • Release altitude.
  • Guidance modes. How does the pilot acquire and engage?



1-23. What are the capabilities of threat UAVs regarding-

  • Performance (speed, altitude, and launch restrictions)?
  • Endurance and range?
  • Contour flying or terrain-limiting factors?
  • Target acquisition and standoff range?
  • Sensor package and payload (maximum weight, type, and load mixture)?
  • Loiter time (how long can the UAV stay on station)?
  • Visibility affects on acquisition?
  • Modes of recovery and turnaround time?
  • Real-time, data-link capability?
  • Guidance modes (ground-controlled and preprogrammed)?
  • Crew proficiency?




1-24. What are the capabilities of threat TBM systems regarding-

  • Performance (flight time, speed, trajectory and launch restrictions)?
  • Maximum and minimum ranges?
  • Circular error of probability?
  • Crew proficiency?
  • Reload and refire time? What is the number of TBMs available per transporter erector launcher?
  • Warhead type and size?
  • Guidance modes?
  • Location of surveyed launch sites?

Cruise Missiles


1-25. What are the capabilities of threat cruise missiles regarding-

  • Performance (flight time, speed, altitude, and launch restrictions)?
  • Maximum and minimum ranges?
  • Circular error of probability?
  • Targeting capabilities and type?
  • Contour flying capability?
  • Vulnerability to countermeasures?
  • Guidance modes?
  • Warhead type and size?



1-26. The primary aerial threats that must be countered include UAVs such as the Shmel-1, DR-3 Reys, and D-4 NPU in addition to cruise missiles like the AS-4 Kitchen, AS-15 Kent, and C-101. Also, rotary-wing attack helicopters including the Mi-8 Hip, Mi-24 Hind D/E, and Mi-28 Havoc; close air support, ground-attack, fixed-wing aircraft such as the Su-25 Frogfoot, MiG-27 Flogger D,J, and MiG-29 Fulcrum. These aircraft will conduct reconnaissance, surveillance, interdiction, antiarmor, and troop support missions. Only occasional attack by high-performance aircraft can be expected along the line of contact. Elements in the division and corps rear, command and control facilities, and reserve forces, can expect repeated attacks by high-performance aircraft. Surveillance for threat aircraft is a 24-hour mission. The enemy's order of battle, combat capability, readiness, and will to fight are some of the factors that will determine the times and rates of sorties. Convoys of troops, as well as supply trains, will always be vulnerable targets, especially as they concentrate at choke points along the convoy route. The threat generally will consist of attack helicopters and close air support aircraft in the forward area near lines of contact, and ground attack fighter-bombers in the rear areas and against convoys. Because these types of aircraft differ in their capabilities and in the manner in which they conduct tactical operations, they present distinctly different threat profiles.



1-27. Because UAVs are inexpensive, easily procured or manufactured, and versatile, UAVs may one day be the most common threat. There are over 100 UAV programs being pursued by at least 35 countries. Their small radar cross sections make them very difficult to detect and track. Payloads may consist of radar seekers, high-explosive warheads, forward-looking infrared cameras, laser designators, television, thermal to imaging devices, chaff, decoy, and electronic attack capabilities. Ranges vary from 25 to 800 kilometers, and the upper limit of night endurance reaches 72 hours. They perform a wide variety of missions including RISTA, suppression of enemy air defense, ground attack, decoy, communications relay, and chemical detection. The RISTA mission, which uses enemy UAVs to locate friendly maneuver forces and key assets with the ability to pass real-time information back to enemy long-range attack systems, is the greatest near-term concern for short-range air defense and the force commander. Three potential threat UAVs, the Shmel-1, DR-3 Reys, and D-4 NPU are shown in Figure 1-1.


Figure 1-1. Potential Threat UAVs.



1-28. Rotary-wing versatility and survivability make it ideal for logistics resupply, air assault, command and control, and heavily armed weapons platforms for attack roles. Rotary-wing aircraft currently exist in every potential theater that US forces may enter. Many countries around the world possess attack helicopters. Armed with stand-off antitank guided missiles, helicopters can inflict heavy casualties on the force and destroy critical assets. The proliferation of helicopters is also of concern. Utility helicopters, combined with stand-off munitions and state-of-the-art target acquisition technology, can produce less expensive, robust helicopter capabilities for any country. Figure 1-2 shows potential threat helicopters, the Mi-8 Hip, Mi-24 Hind, and the Mi-28 Havoc.

Figure 1-2. Potential Threat Helicopters.


1-29. Threat helicopter forces supporting ground operations operate nearly the same as a US helicopter force. For example, CIS (formerly Soviet Union) helicopters are agile and make good use of cover and concealment offered by folds in the earth and trees (Figure 1-3). Their armament includes antitank guided missiles, free-flight air-to-air missiles, and radar-directed 12.7-millimeter nose or chin-mounted machine- or Gatling-type guns. CIS ATGMs are electronically controlled or laser-guided and can engage and destroy any armored vehicle at standoff ranges of more than 3 kilometers (Figure 1-4). Using sneak-and-peek techniques, attack helicopters can deliver a devastating blow against exposed maneuver units. Their lethality is somewhat softened by practical considerations. They must detect a target to engage it and remain in the open long enough to aim and fire their weapons. For some ATGMs, attack helicopters must maintain track on both the missile and target throughout the missile's flight, which can be as long as 23.2 seconds. The 57-millimeter FFAR is an area weapon and is effective against exposed troops and lightly armored vehicles at ranges greater than 1,000 meters.

Figure 1-3. Threat Helicopter in Ground Support Role.

Figure 1-4. Threat Helicopter (Mi-24 Hind) Weapons Range.

  1-30. Although theater missile threats have taken the place of FW aircraft as the principal air threat to ground forces, the following types of FW aircraft may be employed by the enemy against friendly forces: bombers, fighter-bombers, fighters, and close air support aircraft. Any of the FW family may carry TASMs, while only the larger ones will carry cruise missiles. Improvements to FW aircraft will include increased survivability and improved fire control accuracy. Figure 1-5 shows examples of three potentially threat aircraft-the Su-25 Frogfoot, MiG-27 Flogger D, and MiG-29 Fulcrum.


Figure 1-5. Potential Threat Fixed-Wing Aircraft.


1-31. High-performance aircraft, operating in a ground attack role, attack at relatively high speeds. They normally operate under centralized control and are directed against preplanned targets. These aircraft target the division and corps rear area where they deliver ordnance selected to optimize destruction effects on the target. If they have ordnance remaining after completing their primary mission, the aircraft may be released to attack targets of opportunity on their return flight. Whether against preselected targets or against targets of opportunity, the attack will usually include a high-speed, low-level penetration run to a point near the target area to avoid low- and medium-altitude air defenses. Ground attack aircraft are effective against preplanned targets. The pilot generally knows the target location and will carry the correct ordnance for the target. Effectiveness decreases against targets of opportunity. Pilots must locate their targets, plan their attack, and deliver their ordnance in a short time. As a result, accuracy and effectiveness are degraded. The use of area type weapons such as CBUs or FFARs can be expected on the initial attack run, while cannon and machine-gun fire will likely be used in the follow-on attack.



1-32. Air threat employment against US ground forces may vary from country to country. Threat equipment, capabilities, organizational structures, and military political goals will drive this employment. By understanding air threat proliferation and equipment, the commander can make assumptions on how a threat may employ air assets to interdict US operations. The following information describes the type of threat to be countered with each stage of force protection operations.



1-33. Early entry forces may deploy into air inferiority or air parity environment. We can expect the threat to use his entire aerial assets (use or lose) against lucrative targets in the areas of debarkation. Low-altitude aerial threats (RW, CM, and FW) will probably be employed in attack operations against APODs or SPODs, assembly areas, and supply points.


1-34. During this phase, most potential threats will focus on conducting RISTA operations to locate friendly unit movements, assess unit sizes and strengths, and determine their ultimate position. UAVs will be the most challenging aerial RISTA and, therefore, a logical choice for threat use. Information obtained by aerial RISTA will be relayed back to the enemy who can be expected to use any attack means necessary to inflict maximum casualties, slow momentum, and destroy forces. These aerial attack systems could be RW or FW aircraft, CMs, and lethal UAVs.



1-35. We can expect the threat to attempt to counter US defensive and offensive operations with a myriad of aerial platforms. RISTA UAVs will provide the threat commander the necessary information to determine friendly unit locations, movements, and objectives. Aerial and artillery strikes can be generated from the intelligence gathered against the following targets:

  • Maneuver force.
  • FARPs.
  • Aviation FOBs.
  • Command and control nodes.
  • Reserve troop concentrations.
  • Logistical support areas.
  • Terrain features.

Obstacles constricting unit movements as US forces advance to close with the enemy forces.


1-36. Lethal UAVs can be effective in disabling C3I or destroying armored vehicles. CMs will probably be used against logistical concentration, command and control nodes, or with submunitions for area denial. RW aircraft will be used to attack forward elements and the flanks of the advancing enemy maneuver force to slow their tempo, cause confusion and, thereby, inflict maximum casualties. They can also be expected to conduct operations across FLOT, CAS, and air insertion operations. These armed attack helicopters constitute the most widespread and capable air threats to friendly ground forces in the close battle.

Defensive Operations


1-37. During defensive operations, friendly forces are vulnerable to the full spectrum of threat aerial platforms. The enemy will attempt to use aerial platforms to monitor friendly forces for targeting. We can expect the enemy to use UAVs, RW, and possibly FW aircraft, to determine locations of friendly artillery, command and control, ADA assets, and logistical sites and troop concentration areas. Once these sites are located, threat forces will likely disrupt or destroy these sites with the use of artillery and rocket fire, air attacks, and air insertion.

1-38. The enemy's preferred weapons against air defense assets and US forces will be artillery and rocket attacks. These systems are usually numerous, inexpensive, survivable, and highly effective. UAVs will be employed to provide targeting data during this phase of operations. UAVs are extremely effective in this role due to their small size, small radar cross section, and standoff capability. RW and FW attacks are less likely during this phase due to the poor survivability of these systems. In most cases, they are limited to daylight operations. These attacks will be supported with preattack and postattack reconnaissance.

1-39. Enemy forces will more than likely conduct threat air insertion operations with either FW or RW assets and probably during the hours of limited visibility. The threat will likely conduct daytime reconnaissance of landing sites and target areas within 24 hours prior to attack. These operations will fly at low levels attempting to infiltrate into friendly rear areas.

Offensive Operations


1-40. During offensive operations, enemy forces will attempt to use maneuver and fire support assets to regain the initiative. Threat air activity will most likely be categorized by RISTA operations in support of artillery and maneuver. UAVs are best suited for these types of operations, especially if threat forces have developed effective C3I. Secondary weapon systems the enemy will use are helicopters, either as dedicated attack assets or as armed utility helicopters. Helicopter assets can be used in attack, air insertion, or reconnaissance. Helicopters in the reconnaissance role will operate in the same manner as UAVs to support artillery targeting and maneuver. In the attack, the unit can expect spoiling attacks that usually consist of at least two helicopters or more (taking full advantage of cover and concealment) with the mission of disrupting friendly operations.

1-41. In some cases, the enemy will use helicopters in conjunction with threat armored forces to deter friendly penetrations. However, it is unlikely the friendly commander will see large numbers of helicopters in this role. The enemy will use ground forces first to neutralize friendly air defense assets. Helicopters will be used as the primary CAS aerial platform against maneuver forces.

1-42. Threat FW assets will be limited and their use will be hampered by friendly FW aircraft. Use of enemy FW aircraft cannot be entirely ruled out. If used by the enemy, the ground commander can expect to see no more than one or two aircraft in a spoiling attack, normally not coordinated with enemy ground operations.



1-43. Determine both the threat air and ground courses of action and integrate the results of the previous information into a meaningful conclusion. Given what threat air and missile forces prefer to do and the effects of the operational environment, what are the enemy's likely objectives and what COAs are available to him? The G2/S2 develops enemy threat models that depict the threat's air and missile COAs. They also prepare event templates and matrices that focus intelligence collection on identifying which COA the threat will execute. The process of developing these templates and matrices is covered in depth in FM 34-130.


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list