Artillery Control: Terminology - Communication - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

P10-176 Artillery Control: Terminology

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Communication Procedures

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Table of Contents

    Prowords & Glossary

    Artillery control by forward observation luckily does not need its own trove of prowords to get by. If you follow the Call for Fire, you will be well-equipped to get rounds on target.

    On the page detailing the Call for Fire, you will encounter some specific terms that are explained in the following few tables, ordered in the same manner that you will find them appear in the CFF.


    General & In-Progress Terms


    A method of control: The FO requests the artillery stop loading their guns, but they will still fire the last round they loaded. This ends a fire mission, so an End of Mission statement is made after the last impact.

    This is most often used to cut short suppression or continuous missions.


    A method of control: The FO requests the artillery stop firing immediately, even if a round is still in the tube. This ends a fire mission, so an End of Mission statement is made after the last impact.


    A method of control: The FO requests the fire mission be repeated with the exact volume as before. Adjustments can be made in the same transmission to achieve the desired effect.

    SHOT A proword usually issued by the artillery first to inform the FO that the first round has left the tube.
    SPLASH A proword usually issued by the artillery first to inform the FO that the first round is about to impact (about 5 seconds). Has to be requested by the FO.
    IN ADJUST A proword meaning that these parameters are relevant to an ADJUST FIRE mission. Often written i/a.
    IN EFFECT A proword meaning that these parameters are relevant to the FIRE FOR EFFECT. Often written i/e. 
    RANGE CORRECT A spotting usually for the FO's own notes. The impacts were at the correct range and only need adjustments laterally.
    ON LINE A spotting for the FO's notes. The impacts are in front or behind the target and only need adjustments to range.
    ADD / DROP Prowords for adjustments. ADD means to increase range, DROP to decrease range. These are relative to the FO, not to the artillery!
    LEFT / RIGHT Prowords for adjustments. LEFT means to shift left, RIGHT to shift right. These are relative to the FO, not to the artillery!


    Types of Fire Mission

    These are the kinds of fires the FO can conduct together with the FDC. They are stated in the first transmission of a call for fire as part of the warning order.

    Do bear in mind that they all have different parameters and therefore different use cases, but the CFF will go through the same way almost every single time regardless.

    Type of Mission

    FIRE FOR EFFECT Indirect fire with the intent of destroying the target. You are confident in your target location and do not expect gross adjustments.

    Indirect fire with the intent of walking rounds onto the target using repeating, increasingly more accurate single shots. See also: Bracketing.

    When the shot lands on target or within 50 m the FO requests FIRE FOR EFFECT with their final adjustment.

    SUPPRESSION Continued indirect fire over a specified span of time with a specified number of rounds per minute.

    Immediate indirect fire on a location with the intent to suppress the target as quickly as possible.

    Immediate Suppression missions are condensed into a single transmission with target location and no further elements.

    Unlike SUPPRESSION, this CFF has no specified length of time or volume of fire, and the artillery position fires whatever is loaded at the time followed by HE.


    Indirect fire with the intent of obscuring friendly positions or movements.

    A SMOKE Positions fire mission can also be used to mark targets for engagement by air support when no other means of target designation are readily available or practical.


    Indirect fire with the intent of highlighting targets during periods of darkness, or for aiding friendly activities when likelihood of enemy contact is low or non-existent.

    When calling ILLUMINATION, the FO should place rounds above or beyond the target to better illuminate them for accurate engagement.


    Methods of Target Location

    There are three principal methods of communicating the location of a target. The default method is to use grids for ease of use.

    Method of Target Location Meaning

    The default and preferred method which does not need to be transmitted in the WARNORD. You should strive to use grids when possible, because this involves the least work and leads to the quickest results.

    The FDC expects to receive 6- or 8-digit grid figures.


    When this method is included in the WARNORD, the FDC must know the position of the FO from a prior POSREP.

    In a POLAR fire mission, the FDC expects a direction and distance relative from the FO, and measures towards the target using their own tools.
    The FO transmits the word DIRECTION followed by the azimuth in mils from the observer, then the word DISTANCE followed by the distance from the observer in metres.
    Polar is used particularly when the FO does not have precision rangefinding equipment (e.g. Vector 21 + MicroDAGR) and requires a quick bead on the target, suc as when under fire.


    This method requires previously marked KNOWN POINTS shared by both the FO and FDC. Such points can be Target Reference Points (TRPs), targets from previous recorded fire missions, or distinct points on the map, such as a church or radio tower.

    The FO transmits KNOWN POINT and either proceeds as with the POLAR method, or gives a range and deviation adjustment from the point. The latter works like ADJUSTING FIRE and will be explained later.

    Target Description

    Based on the target description that the observer provides, the FDC can decide the ammo, volume and sheaf to use, if not otherwise requested by the FO.

    Item Meaning

    How many targets of which type?

    Examples: 3 Infantry squads, 1 fortified compound


    How protected is the target?

    Examples: In the open, dug in, in bunkers


    For area targets, what is the area? This is optional but gives the FDC greater control over where they want to aim each piece (using sheaf and knowing dispersion).

    Example: Linear target, 200 m west-east. Circular target, radius 100 m.


    Methods of Engagement

    Item Meaning

    You may request a specific ammo type (and fuse) if multiple are available, such as: HE, WP (white phosphorus), ICM (Cluster), Guided, Smoke, Illum.

    If not specified, the FDC will decide based on your TARGET DESCRIPTION.


    You may request a specific number of rounds, per gun or in total.

    If not specified, the FDC will decide based on your TARGET DESCRIPTION.


    You may request multiple ammo types per fire mission that are delivered sequentially in the order you say them here.

    Example: 6 rounds HE FOLLOWED BY 6 rounds WP


    When friendly forces are within 600 m of the target area, you must transmit DANGER CLOSE to warn the FDC to double check their firing solution to avoid friendly fire.

    Shrapnel especially from large-calibre guns travels far and fast. Ensure the safety of allies, but also yourself at a possibly close observation post.


    The duration of the engagement in minutes.

    This is most often used for SUPPRESSION, but never for IMMEDIATE SUPPRESSION.


    The number of rounds per minute.

    SUPPRESSION missions can already be very effective with only a small number of rounds in spaced interals such as 4 or 6 RPM, instead of dropping it all in one go. Utilising it well maximises the effect of conservative ammo use, too.


    Methods of Control

    Method Meaning
    FIRE WHEN READY The default method which needn't be transmitted. As soon as the FDC has completed their firing solution and the guns are laid and loaded, they will fire.

    The FDC calculates their firing solution and lays the guns on it with ammunition ready to fire. The FDC transmits READY TO FIRE, upon which you can wait out until your desired moment to transmit "FIRE".

    It is useful to know the time of flight. You can request this by adding REQUEST TIME OF FLIGHT as below.


    You transmit TIME ON TARGET followed by a coordinated time.

    Example: "TIME ON TARGET 0900 hours."

    The FDC calculates and lays the guns on target to fire so that the rounds impact at your specified time. This is immensely satisfying and useful in coordinated assaults on entrenched positions, where the advancing infantry benefits from suppression or smoke cover.


    'Continuous fire' will endlessly fire rounds on target until either the CHECK FIRE or CEASE LOADING commands are issued.

    'Continuous illumination' will send shells to sufficiently illuminate the target area until either the CHECK FIRE or CEASE LOADING commands are issued. The FDC knows the time one illumination shell remains lit and adjusts the interval as needed.


    'Splash' is transmitted by the FDC five seconds before impact of the first round. It's a good habit to get into requesting it often.

    When the FO is observing under fire and needs to know when they can quickly pop up from cover, or is highly mobile and not always in a position to observe, requesting splash is very useful. 


    The time of flight is calculated by the FDC and transmitted to the FO either:

    1) When the FDC transmits 'Ready' for AT MY COMMAND missions, or

    2) When the FDC calls 'Shot' as the first round leaves the tube.

    Knowing the time of flight is useful to the FO, so that they can better decide when to request fire or to prepare to be at an observation point.


    This SOP has been contributed to by 1 editors:
    Major James
    Specialist SkullCollector

    UNITAF Standard Operating procedures (SOP)
    are adapted primarly from US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our written and audio procedures are a combination of the following primary source materials, as well as our own learnings, modifications and adaptations:
    - US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8)
    - Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Leader Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (STP 21-24-SMCT)
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