A Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) or Forward Air Controller-Airborne (FAC-A) directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in CAS and other air operations.
In CAS operations, JTAC/FAC(A) is the authority to grant weapons release clearance to attacking aircraft.
To allow for rapid communication of large volumes of information specific comm brevity and briefing cards are used for aircraft to check in with the JTAC and for the JTAC to brief the aircraft on the target.



The Check In Briefing

Once the flight has established overhead and familiarised themselves with the terrain below, aircraft are required to ‘check in’ to the JTAC.
The check in briefing follows a set format (see briefing example below).

There may be a reason to delay taking the aircraft check-in, like an attack in progress or the JTAC not ready to copy.
Hitman 7-2: “Sting 2-1 hold your check-in, attack in progress”


Types of control

TYPE 1 - JTAC must visually acquire the attacking aircraft and the target for each attack.

TYPE 2 - JTAC requires control of individual attacks and any or all of the conditions exist:

  • JTAC is unable to visually acquire the attacking aircraft at weapons release.
  • JTAC is unable to visually acquire the target, and/or the attacking aircraft is unable to acquire the mark/target prior to weapons release.

TYPE 3 - JTAC requires the ability to provide clearance for multiple attacks within a single engagement and any or all of the conditions exist:

  • JTAC is unable to visually acquire the attacking aircraft at weapons release.
  • JTAC is unable to visually acquire the target, and/or the attacking aircraft is unable to acquire the mark/target prior to weapons release.

CAS 9-Line Brief Breakdown

Line 1 - Initial Point
This identifies the starting location from where the JTAC directs the aircraft to begin their attack. It can be either:
• IP / Waypoint by name: "AMY"
• Hasty IP, if the JTAC needs to create a new IP on the spot he will issue MGRS coordinates for the aircrew to create a new waypoint: “Hasty IP, Kilo Mike two-two-three-four."
• Overhead, attacks may be conducted from an orbit of the target which allows aircrew to maintain eyes on the ground: “From the overhead”

Line 2 - Heading from IP to fly to the target: “two two zero - right”
The JTAC may direct a left or right offset to avoid a known hazard, such as friendly artillery fire. The aircrew would stay on that side of the heading line when inbound to the target.

Line 3 - Distance from the IP to the target in nm and should be accurate to a tenth of a nm: “Nine point one”

Line 4 - Target Elevation given in feet above Mean Sea Level.
Read as sequential digits with the word “feet” after the digits: “Two three zero feet"
  • If lines 1-3 were abbreviated, the elevation transmission should begin with: “Elevation two three zero feet"

Line 5 - Target Description should be specific enough for the aircrew to recognize the target. Plain language. Concise but descriptive: “T-55”

Line 6 - Target Location.
100,000 meter square zone ID and numerical location digits.
There should be a noticeable pause between the easting and northing when reading MGRS grids so as to maintain an expected cadence.
“Kilo Mike seven eight one … seven zero four”

Line 7 - Type of Mark the JTAC will use (talk-on, smoke, laser, or IR) to mark the target: “Talk-on”
If using a laser, the JTAC will also pass the code he will use.

Line 8 - Friendlies Location from the target is given in meters and cardinal direction from the target: “friendlies west three five zero”

Line 9 - Egress: “Egress West, left pull to CHLOE”

The following information should be included if applicable:
• Laser-to-target line (LTL) (in degrees).
• Desired type/number of ordnance and/or weapons effects.
• Threat, location, and type of suppression (if any).
• Any active Gun Target Line (GTL).
• Hazards to aviation.
• Weather.
• Additional target information.
• Night vision capability.
• Other time considerations.
• Friendly mark (if any).

The following information are restrictions and should always be read back.
• Final attack heading.
• Airspace Coordination Areas.
• Danger close (if applicable and with commander’s initials).
• Time On Target / Time To Target.

9-line Readbacks
Lines 4, 6, and any restrictions are mandatory readback items.

NOTE: US NAVY SOP is that all readbacks shall come from the aircraft system.
FAHs, ACAs, Danger close, and TOTs shall always be considered restrictions and will be read back. JTACs should respond to correct aircrew readbacks with: “Sting 2-1 readback correct”. If the readback is not correct the JTAC should restate the portion in question correctly, using voice inflection to draw attention to the portion that had been read incorrectly: “Sting 2-1 be advised, final attack headings: one-eight-zero through two-SEVEN-zero” Full CAS 9-line Briefing Example - Type 1 control chk 9linv2 STING 2-1 WOULD NOW PLOT THE MGRS COORDINATES ON HIS MAP THEN CORRELATE THEM ON THE GROUND THEN ADVISE THAT HE IS READY FOR THE ‘TALK-ON’. REFER TO IMAGES BELOW.

STING 2-1:... .“Ready for Talk-on”
Hitman 7-2:.....“Call contact on the intersection between MSR Michigan and the rail tracks at lines 4 and 6”
STING 2-1:.. ..“Contact the intersection”
Hitman 7-2:......“Follow MSR Michigan south-east 300 meters and call contact on the bend in the road”
STING 2-1:.. ..“Contact the bend in the road”
Hitman 7-2:......“Observe the open area the north of the bend, are there any vehicles in your field of view?”
STING 2-1:... .“I see a tank oriented north/south.”
Hitman 7-2:.....“Sting 2-1 that T-55 tank is your target”
STING 2-1:. ...“Sting 2-1 tally the T-55.”
Hitman 7-2:.....“Sting 2-1 Push when ready.”
STING 2-1:.. ..Roger, Push when ready"


STING 2-1:.....“Sting 2-1 IN with heading 220”
Hitman 7-2:......“Sting 2-1, CLEARED HOT”
STING 2-1:.....“Sting 2-1 OFF, one away.”

Hitman 7-2:......“Sting 2-2, from lead’s hits, north 50”
STING 2-2:.......“Sting 2-2 IN, heading 220.”
Hitman 7-2:......“Sting 2-2, CLEARED HOT”
STING 2-2:.......“Sting 2-2 OFF, two away.”
Hitman 7-2:......“Sting 2-2, good hits, target destroyed”

When the JTAC/FAC(A) refers to “Lines 4 and 6” he is directing Sting 2-1s attention to the elevation and MGRS grid coordinates in the 9-line brief. Line 6 is the 6 digit MGRS coordinate ‘KM 781704’ which we see here plotted on the map of Samtredia. If you are new to MGRS you can learn about it by clicking on this link to the MGRS Training Page. samtrediamgrs2web Looking outside the cockpit down at the target area from the east side of Samtredia, Sting 2-1 can easily see MSR Michigan crossing the railway tracks near KM 781704. He confirms this location by observing that the Heliport ‘DALLAS’ is 200 meters to the south-west. Confident that he has located ‘lines 4 and 6’ on the ground, Sting 2-1 contacts the JTAC who then talks his eyes on to the target which is marked here in a red circle. sam2