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This chapter implements STANAG 3466/ASCC 44/18C



After development, briefback, and approval of the landing plan, planners begin to develop the air movement plan. This plan is the third step in planning an airborne operation and supports both the landing plan and the ground tactical plan. It provides the required information to move the airborne force from the departure airfields to the objective area. The plan includes the period from when units load until they exit the aircraft. The air movement annex to the OPORD contains the air movement plan.


Although the Air Force component commander is solely responsible for executing the air movement phase, the air movement plan is the product of joint Army/Air Force consulting and planning. The Army contributes its landing plan and the procedures for the control and disposition of personnel at the departure airfield(s). The Air Force controls takeoff times and, based on the Army's landing plan, coordinates timing between different departure airfields to ensure the proper arrival sequence at the DZ/LZ/EZ. The Air Force also designates rendezvous points and develops the flight route diagrams. The combination of METT-T and the orientation of DZs/LZs/EZs determine the orientation of the flight routes.


The air movement plan contains the information required to ensure the efficient loading and delivery of units to the objective area in the proper sequence, time, and place to support the ground tactical plan.

a. Elements of Air Movement Table. The air movement table forms the principal part of the air movement plan, including the following essential elements:

  • Departure airfield for each serial.
  • Number of aircraft for each serial.
  • Chalk numbers for each aircraft, each serial, and each departure airfield; aircraft tail numbers correspond to aircraft chalk numbers.
  • Unit identity of the airlift element.
  • Name/rank of each USAF serial commander.
  • Number and type aircraft.
  • Employment method for each aircraft (PP/HD/CDS/LAPES).
  • Army unit identity.
  • Name/rank of each Army commander.
  • Load times.
  • Station times.
  • Takeoff times.
  • Designated primary and alternate DZs for each serial.
  • P-hour for the lead aircraft of each serial (given in real time).
  • Remarks such as special instructions, key equipment, and location of key members of the chain of command.

b. Additional Elements. Besides the air movement tables, the air movement plan contains the following information:

  • Flight route diagram.
  • Serial formation.
  • Air traffic control.
  • Concentration for movement.
  • Allowable cabin/cargo loads.
  • Airfield/FLS MOG (aircraft maneuver on ground space).
  • Aircraft parking diagram.
  • Army personnel and equipment rigging areas at the departure airfield.
  • Army control procedures during preparation for loading.
  • Emergency procedures including SERE/SAR planning.
  • Weather considerations.
  • JSEAD, counterair, and BAI considerations


The type of movement must be considered when determining how to load the aircraft. Is it administrative or tactical? Airborne units can conduct an administrative movement to an ISB or REMAB, and then transload into assault aircraft by using tactical loading. (Chapter 8 discusses transload operations.)

a. Administrative movements are nontactical. Soldiers and equipment are arranged to expedite their movement and to conserve time and energy. Economical use is made of aircraft cabin space, and planners make maximum use of ACL.

b. Tactical movements are when personnel and equipment are organized, loaded, and transported to accomplish the ground tactical plan. The proper use of aircraft ACL is important, but it does not override the commander's sequence of employment.


When the airborne unit deploys, planning guidance from higher headquarters indicates the type of aircraft available for the movement. Based on this information, the unit commander determines and requests the number of sorties by the type of aircraft required to complete the move. The air movement planner must ensure that each aircraft is used to its maximum capability. This is based on the information developed on unit requirements, ACLs, and available passenger seats. The methods of determining aircraft requirements are the weight method and the type-load method.

a. Weight Method. This method is based on the assumption that total weight, not volume, is the determining factor. Since aircraft sometimes run out of space before exceeding the ACL, this method is no longer widely used. It has been replaced by the type-load method. However, during recent operations, it was discovered that aircraft can actually exceed their ACL before running out of space. The long distances involved in reaching an objective area, the necessity of the aircraft to circle for extended periods before landing, and the large amounts of fuel needed to sustain the aircraft can result in the aircraft having to reduce its ACL. As a rule, the longer the deployment, the lower the ACL.

b. Type-Load Method. In any unit air movement, a number of the aircraft loads contain the same items of equipment and numbers of personnel. Identical type loads simplify the planning process and make the tasks of manifesting and rehearsing much easier. Used for calculating individual aircraft sortie requirements, the type-load method is the most common and widely accepted method of unit air movement planning. It requires consideration of load configuration and condition on arrival at a desired destination, rapid off-loading, aircraft limitations, security requirements en route, and the anticipated operational requirements. The type-load method, therefore, is more detailed and is used in planning unit movements.


When preparing the air movement plan, the S3 Air considers tactical integrity, cross loading, and self-sufficiency of each load.

a. Tactical Integrity. The S3 Air keeps units intact as much as possible. For parachute operations, this can mean placing units larger than squads on separate aircraft so they exit their respective aircraft over the same portion of the DZ. This facilitates rapid assembly by placing units close to their AAs on landing.

(1) The S3 Air keeps squads together on the same aircraft if possible; fire teams are never split.

(2) Fire support teams and their RATELOs should be on the same aircraft with the commander they support; they should jump so as to land next to him.

(3) Platoon leaders (and PSGs on different aircraft) should have their FOs and RATELOs and at least one machine gun crew and one Dragon gunner on the same aircraft.

(4) Each aircraft must have at least one unit NCO or commissioned officer for each unit with soldiers on board. Each aircraft has Army leadership present.

(5) Tactical integrity can be ensured by distributing the company commander, unit 1SG, and XO in the lead, middle, and trail aircraft, respectively.

b. Cross Loading. Cross loading distributes leaders, key weapons, and key equipment among the aircraft of the formation to preclude total loss of C2 or unit effectiveness if an aircraft is lost. This is an important factor in rapid assembly and must be given careful attention in training and on combat jumps.

(1) Separate key personnel in case any aircraft aborts or fails to reach the DZ. This prevents the loss of more than one key officer/NCO of any one unit. Properly planned cross loading accomplishes the following:

(a) Soldiers from the same unit will land together in the same part of the DZ for faster assembly.

(b) Equipment/vehicle operators and weapon system crews will land in the same part of the DZ as their heavy-drop equipment so they can get to it, derig it, and get ready to fight quickly.

(c) If one or more aircraft abort either on the ground or en route to the DZ, some key leaders and equipment will still be delivered.

(2) When planning airborne force cross loading, remember -- the fewer key people on the same aircraft, the better. If possible, separate the following personnel:

(a) The brigade commander and his battalion commanders.

(b) The battalion commanders and their company commanders.

(c) The commander, his XO, and his S3.

(d) The primary brigade and battalion staff officers and their assistants.

(e) The company commanders, XOs, and 1SGs from the same company.

(f) The platoon leaders and PSGs from the same platoon.

(3) Always plan for the possibility that one or more heavy-drop aircraft will abort before it gets to the DZ, or the equipment will streamer in and become unserviceable.

(a) Cross load heavy-drop equipment to have the least possible impact on the mission if it does not arrive in the DZ. Separate critical loads so if any aircraft aborts or fails to reach the DZ, no single unit loses more than one key officer/NCO or a significant proportion of the same type of combat-essential equipment.

(b) Coordinate closely with the Air Force so heavy-drop loads are loaded in the reverse order they should land.

(c) Do not include the same type of critical equipment from the same unit, or like equipment from different units in the same aircraft loads. This applies whether it is to be airdropped or airlanded.

(d) Cross load heavy-drop equipment in one of the following ways:

  • Select HEPIs to support the ground tactical plan. Place loads so they land close to the location where they will be used. Cross load the parachutists to first support the ground tactical plan; then coordinate their landings with those of the heavy-drop platforms. When using multiple HEPIs, coordinate the selected HEPI for each load with the Air Force mission commander.
  • Do not load two or more like platforms from the same unit on the same aircraft because the aircraft are moving too fast to drop more than one platform in the same sector.

(e) Separate radios, mortars, antitank weapons, ammunition bundles, and other critical equipment or supplies as much as possible. No like items of combat-essential equipment from the same unit should be on the same aircraft.

  • A weapons system should be loaded on the same aircraft as its crew.

NOTE: Only one crew-served weapons squad/team should be on each aircraft.

  • A RATELO should jump the same aircraft as the leader he supports, either just before or just after him. Another good technique is for the leader to jump the radio himself. In this way, he can still set up immediate communications even if he and his RATELO are separated on the DZ.
  • The CWIE and the DMJP can and should be jumped at any position in the stick to support cross loading and assembly plans. The commander must make a risk assessment when he determines the location of parachutists in the stick carrying this equipment. Risks to both the parachutist and mission accomplishment are present. If the parachutist falls inside the aircraft, the remainder of the soldiers may not be able to exit on that pass. Also, this equipment increases the risks of the parachutist being towed outside the aircraft.



  • Individual crew-served weapons (such as machine guns, mortars, antitank weapons) and other critical equipment or supplies should be distributed on all aircraft.
  • Communications equipment, ammunition, and other supply bundles must be cross loaded.

c. Self-Sufficiency. Each aircraft load should be self-sufficient so its personnel can operate effectively by themselves if any other aircraft misses the DZ, makes makes an emergency landing somewhere else, or aborts the mission.

(1) A single (complete) weapons system should have the complete crew for that system on the same aircraft along with enough ammunition to place the weapon into operation.

(2) For airland or heavy-equipment drop operations, trailers and weapons are manifested with their prime movers.

(3) Squads should stay together on the same aircraft; fire teams are never split. Squads/fire teams should jump both aircraft doors to reduce the amount of separation on the DZ.


Planners can best accomplish the movement of forces by air for an airborne assault by developing plans in an orderly sequence, such as --

a. Preparing vehicle load cards. (See paragraph 5-7.)

b. Preparing air movement planning worksheets for each unit (company through battalion). (See paragraph 5-8.)

c. Preparing basic planning guides (company and battalion) and forwarding them to higher headquarters (battalion and brigade). (See paragraph 5-9.)

d. Establishing priorities for entry into the objective area by echelon: assault, follow-on, and rear. Units establish priorities within each echelon to phase personnel and equipment into subsequent echelons if aircraft are not available.

e. Preparing a unit aircraft utilization plan to determine aircraft requirements and type loads. (See paragraph 5-10.)

f. Preparing air-loading tables to facilitate rapid deployment. (See paragraph 5-11.)

Units receive their missions and review previous plans. Then they--

a. Revise the plans based on the task organization dictated by the ground tactical plan.

b. Allocate available aircraft. If aircraft are not available, they phase low-priority items to the follow-on or rear echelon.

c. Prepare air-loading tables and manifests.

d. Prepare the air movement table.

e. Prepare a DD Form 1387-2 for hazardous materials IAW TM 38-250.


Vehicle load plans are based on SOP and mission tailoring. Then, they are updated according to aircraft availability and type.

a. Heavy-drop vehicles are first loaded with as much unit equipment as they will hold. The vehicle's load capacity should not be exceeded, and all cargo must be secured in the vehicle's cargo compartment. Vehicles are measured and weighed after they have been loaded. (Guidance for weighing and marking of airdrop vehicles is in FM 55-9 and AR 220-10.) Some items, especially ammunition, cannot be rigged on the vehicle, but can be carried as ballast on the platform. (See the appropriate FM for rigging different vehicles for heavy-equipment drop.)

b. Vehicle load cards are made for each vehicle to be loaded aboard an aircraft. (Figure 5-l.) Each sketch includes such information as load data for the vehicle; length and width of the vehicle; and, when the vehicle carries cargo, the names and locations of the cargo in the vehicle.


The air movement planning worksheet is a consolidated list of a unit's equipment and personnel. (Figure 5-2.) It is not a formal DA form; it is an example of a locally made form. If necessary, any grid-type paper can be used in lieu of a printed form. The worksheet lists all the dimensions and cargo loads of vehicles. It must include all on-hand equipment and personnel, and the full amount authorized by the unit TOE. Items that are short are still included as equipment, and personnel shortages can be filled if alerted for deployment. This also prevents the need for constant revision of the worksheet. Basic loads of ammunition carried with the unit, which must be palletized or placed in door bundles, should also be included.


The basic planning guide form is a report prepared by ground units to determine the aircraft required for an airborne operation. The example completed form shows the exact status of a unit's personnel, vehicles, equipment, and supplies. (Figure 5-3.)

a. Preparation of the Form. The example basic planning guide form is first prepared by commanders of lower units and consolidated by higher units that control and plan the operation. Thus, the ground forces commander has available for planning the exact status of the personnel and equipment of his entire force.

b. Explanation of the Form. The separate items of the form are completed as follows:

(1) Heading. This information is completed by the preparing headquarters.

(2) Organization. The subordinate units of an organization are listed. The battalion commander lists each company in the battalion. The brigade commander lists each battalion and separate company or any attached units. The division lists each organic and attached unit in the division. Platoons and sections are not listed separately. Company planning guides represent consolidated figures. Attachments, such as medical specialists or FOs, are listed separately by organization to assist in identifying all units involved.

(3) Personnel. This item addresses any of the following:

(a) Assault echelon. The commander's advisors inform him as to the approximate number of planes or assault aircraft assigned to the unit. Advisors can inform the commander if the unit is to move by plane; if so, all personnel going on the move are listed under this column.

(b) Follow-on echelon. This echelon consists of personnel and equipment that are not airdropped or airlanded in the initial airlift, but join the parent organization as soon as possible or at a specified date during the operation.

(c) Rear echelon. This echelon consists of personnel who remain at the base camp or similar installation. They do not necessarily move with the overland detail but can be moved forward later.

(4) Vehicles, equipment, and supplies. The columns under this heading are used to show the distribution of materiel for the operation. The number of each type of vehicle, as well as heavy or bulky equipment and supplies, are listed herein.

(5) Remarks. In this item, additional information or notes concerning personnel or equipment (such as the contents of air delivery containers) are listed.

c. Collection of Forms. The S3 Air for the battalion collects the basic planning guide forms from the subordinate companies and consolidates them at battalion level. He submits them to US Army riggers, ALCE, and the DACG, depending on the type of movement required.


The unit aircraft utilization plan identifies equipment by aircraft load; this simplifies planning of identical types of loads. The goal is to have most aircraft loads the same. The first step is to weigh personnel and equipment by echelon. Then, add up the aircraft loads to determine how many aircraft are needed. If too few aircraft are available to meet the planned echelonment, this becomes readily apparent. At this point, priorities are applied and equipment and personnel are phased back to fit airlift constraints.


The next step after completion of the unit aircraft utilization plan is to prepare the aircraft loading tables.

a. Loading Table Layout. Using DD Form 2131 or MAC Forms 342 or 559, depending on the type of aircraft employed, the placement of each vehicle and item of equipment is planned. Using templates (which can be obtained from ALCE) and the form for the appropriate aircraft, each type of load is laid out and lines are drawn around the template. The load must be within the aircraft's safe center of gravity limits; the ACL must not be exceeded.

b. Cross-Loading Plan. Before final completion of loading tables, cross loading must be accomplished IAW the landing and ground tactical plans.

c. Loading Table Approval. When all data have been entered on the appropriate form, the Air Force (the affiliated ALCE) approves the loads.


The development of aircraft loads is accomplished through reverse planning The planner must have a DZ mosaic or facsimile when developing the heavy equipment points of impact, personnel point of impact, and personnel manifests. Aircraft loads must support the assembly and ground tactical plans through effective cross loading.

a. Preparation of the Load. Using the mosaic, facsimile, or sketch, preparers mark the desired single or multiple HEPI for all equipment, and the PPI. The sketch is lined off in 70-meter (75-yard) increments from the PPI. This represents the normal one-second parachutist interval. These lines are made perpendicular to the line of flight so that the name of the parachutist associated with a particular piece of equipment can be marked on the sketch. For planning purposes, heavy-drop equipment lands 400 yards apart on C-130 operations and 500 yards apart on C-141B operations. The name of the parachutist who must obtain his equipment is entered on the line nearest the equipment. Personnel not associated with a particular piece of equipment can be marked on the lines closest to their AA. The personnel manifest is then taken directly off the DZ schematic. The result is a manifest order that facilitates quick assembly.

b. Allocation of Seats. Once the commander has developed the cross-load plan, he notifies involved units how many and which seats they have on each aircraft. Platoons can be manifested in multiple aircraft to facilitate cross-loading, but personnel are placed in stick order on each aircraft to exit and land in the same general area on the DZ.

c. Internal Adjustments. Each company commander in turn cross-loads his part of the split platoon within his part of the stick to best support the assembly plan and ground tactical plan. (Figure 5-4.)

d. Preparation of the Manifest. Manifesting is accomplished in the reverse order of exit. (See paragraph 5-14.)


The air movement table assigns units to serials within the air columns. The location of units in successive serials is IAW priorities established for landing. Units maintain tactical integrity of Army and airlift units as far as practicable. All elements in a given serial land on the same DZ/LZ in the objective area; however, certain aircraft in a serial can continue on to drop R&S forces in their planned areas of employment. The air movement table form is prepared by the ground forces commander in coordination with the Air Force commander. This form, used as an annex to the OPORD, allocates aircraft to the ground units to be lifted. It designates the number and type of aircraft in each serial and specifics the departure area and the time of loading and takeoff. Exact format for the air movement table depends on the needs of the commander, which can be specified by unit SOP. There is no specific format, but the air movement table should provide the information herein.

a. Heading. When the air movement table is published as a part of the order, the following elements are included:

  • Classification.
  • Annex and operations order number.
  • Headquarters.
  • Place of issue.
  • Date and time.
  • Map reference.

b. Serial Number. Serial numbers are arranged consecutively in the order of flight. Factors to be considered in the assignment of units to serials are the mission of the airborne unit, the size of the DZ/LZ, and the distribution (cross loading) of personnel, weapons, and equipment.

c. Chalk Number. The chalk number specifics the position of aircraft being loaded in each serial. Loads are numbered sequentially IAW serial numbering, such as Serial 1 contains Chalks 1 through 12; Serial 2 contains Chalks 13 through 24.

d. Air Force Units. This section includes Air Force information that is important to the ground force commander.

(1) Airlift unit. This is the designation of the airlift unit that is transporting or furnishing the aircraft for each serial.

(2) Serial commander. This is the senior Air Force officer in the serial.

(3) Number and type of aircraft. The exact number and type of aircraft that actually fly in the serial are shown in this column.

e. Army Forces. This section includes information directly related to the ground forces.

(1) Aircraft required. The number of airplanes required to transport the unit.

(2) Employment. Type of movement such as parachute, heavy equipment, CDS, LAPES, or airlanded.

(3) Unit loaded. The airborne unit being loaded.

(4) Serial commander. The senior airborne officer in the serial.

(5) Departure airfield. Name or code name of the departure airfield.

(6) Load time. The time established by the airlift and ground force commander to begin loading. Parachutists can require from 30 to 45 minutes to load, depending on the aircraft and any accompanying equipment (door bundles, wedges, and parachutes for in-flight rigging). Heavy-drop and CDS loads should take about two hours for loading.

(7) Station time. The time the passengers, equipment, and crew are loaded and ready for takeoff.

(8) Takeoff. The time the aircraft is scheduled to depart from the airfield.

(9) Aircraft formations. The type formation the aircraft will fly.

(10) Objective. The name or designation of the DZ, LZ, EZ, or airfield.

(11) Time over target. TOT is the time of arrival at the objective area.

(12) Direction of flight over the objective area.

f. Other Items. Other items that can be included in the air movement table (at the commander's discretion) are as follows:

  • Number of personnel by serial/chalk.
  • Initial and final manifest call times.
  • Prejump training times.
  • Type parachute.
  • Weather decision.
  • Weather delay.
  • Time for movement to the departure airfield.
  • Air Force station time.
  • Remarks.


The flight manifest is an exact record of personnel by name, rank, SSAN, and duty position in each aircraft . It is also a brief description of the equipment, with the station number, as loaded in the aircraft. Load computations for personnel and equipment are also listed. A separate form is made for each aircraft. Copies are made for the DACG/DACO, pilot, ALCE, and AACG; a copy is retained by the jumpmaster or senior Army representative on the aircraft. The senior ground forces member or primary jumpmaster in each aircraft finalizes the form. The Air Force authorizes it, and the ground force representative signs it after verifying the personnel on the manifest.


The automated airload planning system is a computer-based automated system designed to simplify the outload plans for combat units.

a. Files. By computerizing the necessary loading characteristics, weight restrictions, and equipment configurations required to outload the airborne unit, this system automatically tells the commander the load configurations and number of aircraft required to move a specific force.

(1) Air Force aircraft characteristics. This file includes all data that affect the placement of equipment on a particular aircraft; it contains data on the C-130, C-141B, C-17, and C5A/B aircraft, which appropriate personnel update as changes occur.

(2) Items and uniform. This file contains size data on all the equipment in the unit that requires floor space. Commanders use the data for airland, airdrop, or LAPES. The file contains information about the aircraft center of balance, the psi of the tires, whether the item requires shoring or not, and whether the item is turnable or not. The unique feature of this file is that it considers inseparable items of equipment together; for example, a jeep and trailer or a HMMWV and 105-millimeter howitzer. This permits the program to load an item of equipment with its prime mover.

(3) Force package and options. This file contains 12 force packages and about 1,000 modular force package options.

b. Commander Input. The ALPS allows commanders to input force packages, options, items, prime movers and the towed pieces of equipment, and multiples of each. Once a force package or option is entered into the program, the force package or option can be changed for the specific run of the program to meet mission requirements.

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