Threat classification - Aircrew - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

Threat classification

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Aircrew Procedures

Version 1 / 6min read / Updated Tue 25 Feb 2020 / 140 views

How Threats are Classified

Throughout the course of flying in Arma you will be confronted with a variety of different threat weapons. Each of the main classifications of these threats is described below, via a "Capabilities, Indicators, React" info breakdown. The "CIR" rating is intended to answer the following questions.



  • What can the threat weapon do?
  • What is unique about it compared to the other threat weapon types?



  • What lets you know that one of these weapons is being fired at your aircraft?



  • What do you do when you take fire from one of these weapons?
  • What are the best evasive maneuvers to use?


Small Arms Fire (SAF)

Small Arms Fire is generally the most common threat to aircraft on the battlefield. While they pose little threat to jet aircraft, they can be a major issue for a helicopter crew that does not exercise proper tactical judgment while flying. Small Arms are anything typically employed by the infantry - light and medium machineguns, rifles, et cetera. Their Capabilities, Indicators, React (CIR) info is as follows.



  • Can penetrate unarmored cockpits and passenger compartments
  • Limited effective range. Dangerous at under 300 meters, moderately dangerous at 500m, and markedly less effective beyond that unless massed.
  • Relatively light and 'weak' bullets
  • Not stabilized, difficult to manage recoil to properly engage aircraft
  • Difficult to properly lead aircraft moving at speed
  • Often massed as 'ambush' fire in order to increase effects
  • When sustained or massed, can cause tail rotor failure of fuel leaks



  • Muzzle flashes and smoke
  • Normal-sized tracers going past the aircraft. Sometimes there will be no tracers at all, just the impact sounds of bullets hitting the aircraft.
  • Visible infantry or no visible vehicles
  • Sounds of bullets hitting vehicle hull, accompanied by light damage



  • Break turn
  • Jink
  • Raise altitude or lower to mask with terrain



HMGs & Vehicle CSWs, including AAA

Heavy machineguns, crew-served weapons, and anti-aircraft artillery are a common threat. They are similar to SAF in many respects, but pack a heavier punch and have higher accuracy at range. Their CIR info is as follows.




  • Stabilized, high accuracy
  • Heavy, damaging bullet. In the case of AAA, this is often an explosive cannon round.



  • Large tracers
  • Large muzzle flashes and smoke
  • Stable stream of fire
  • Vehicle at origin of fire (if veh CSW)
  • High (HMG) or very high (AAA) damage from hits



  • Break turn
  • Jink
  • Sharply raise altitude or lower to mask with terrain


A ZSU-39 Tigris opens fire with anti-aircraft cannons




Anti-tank assets are generally used in "target of opportunity" situations against slow & low helicopters. It requires a great deal of skill (or luck) for an AT shooter to take down an aircraft with an unguided rocket, or a great failure on the part of the aircraft crew to allow such a shot to be successful. The CIR info for AT is as follows.



  • Very limited range (dangerous at 100-300m, falls off rapidly beyond that)
  • Difficult to lead moving aircraft with AT
  • Depending on the power of warhead, severe damage or destruction of aircraft is likely


  • Backblast dust/smoke
  • Linear smoke trail
  • No obvious vehicle having launched it (infantry AT) or ATGM-class vehicle (ie: BRDM ATGM) at launch site


  • Dump flares. You do not have time to decide whether it's an AT rocket or a guided missile.
  • Break turn until you are moving perpendicular to the launch site.
  • At this point you should be able to tell that it is a rocket that was fired, and not a missile. Once this has been confirmed, cease flare dispensing.


MANPADs, SAMs, & Anti-Aircraft missiles

Missile systems tend to pose the most serious threats to aircraft. Their guidance systems allow them to track even the fastest jets, while their warheads can wreck an aircraft with a good hit.




  • Seeking missile(s)
  • Long range
  • Difficult to detect (MANPAD)
  • Difficult to evade - extremely fast and maneuverable
  • Powerful warhead, can result in severe damage or destruction of aircraft
  • Oftentimes multiple missiles available



  • Backblast dust/smoke
  • Visible smoke trail coming from the ground
  • Smoke trail is curving/changing direction, indicating a seeking warhead
  • Radar warning receiver, IR launch indicator



  • Dump countermeasures (chaff, flares, or both - depends on the vehicle)
  • Fly perpendicular to missile flight path ('beam' it)
  • Put terrain between self and missile
  • Continue dispensing countermeasures until missile is no longer a threat and aircraft is out of engagement envelope of the launcher


Smoke trail of an anti-air missile as it launches. By the time you see this, you only have a split-second to react.


An OPFOR anti-aircraft gunner hits a Ghosthawk with a Titan AA

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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