Rotary: Nap-of-earth flight - Aircrew - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

P7-72 Rotary: Nap-of-earth flight

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Aircrew Procedures

Version 1 / 1min read / Updated Tue 25 Feb 2020 / 157 views

The altitude a helo can safely fly at will vary depending upon the terrain.

Heavily wooded, rolling terrain allows for helos to fly higher due to the amount of terrain and vegetation that interferes with MANPAD systems (very low exposure times, lots of obstacles for firing a clean shot), whereas desert terrain or other fairly flat terrain can force lower flight altitudes.

Regardless of terrain type, nap-of-earth flight is an important technique to use to avoid enemy observation or engagement. NOE simply means that the helicopter is staying low and following the contours of the ground as it flies, as opposed to simply beelining across the sky without consideration for the terrain below.


Guidelines for NOE Flight

  • Be vigilant in scanning for obstacles.
    The most common obstacles are poles, trees, and powerlines. At night, powerlines in particular become a greater threat due to the 'grain' and reduced clarity of vision brought on by nightvision.
  • Know and consider the diameter of your rotor mast.
    If you need to go between two trees, for example, you must be able to visually determine if your rotors can fit through.
  • Only fly as low as you need to.
    While flying a few meters off the ground is a good display of skill, oftentimes it puts your passengers at an unnecessary risk. Fly at the altitude that is necessary to accomplish the goal that NOE flight facilitates. NOE flight does not have to be "Hey guys, I just picked a flower off the ground!" altitude at all times.


UNITAF Standard Operating Proceedure (SOP) is adapted from two primary source materials - in addition to our own experience and past learnings:
US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8) ->view online
Dyslexi's Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3) -> view online

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