Introduction to Basic Fighter Maneuvers
Colonel LaSandren 2nd May 2015
Basic fighter maneuvers are actions that a fighter aircraft makes during air combat maneuvering, historically known as dogfighting. The development of BFM began with the first fighter aircraft, during World War I, then continued with each following war, adapting to the changing weapons and technologies.
Basic fighter maneuvers consist of tactical turns, rolls, and other actions to get behind or above an enemy, before the opponent can do the same. BFM are typically universal maneuvers which can be performed in most any fighter aircraft, and are usually considered to be training maneuvers. Training usually begins with pilots flying the same type of aircraft, pitting only their skills against each other. In advanced training, pilots learn to fly against opponents in different types of aircraft, so pilots must learn to cope with different technological advantages as well, which more resembles real combat. In actual air combat maneuvering, variations of these basic maneuvers may become necessary, depending on the different types of aircraft involved, the weapon systems each side is using, and the number of aircraft involved. BFM are used in the three-dimensional arena of air combat, where maneuvers are not limited by simple two-dimensional turns, such as during a car chase. BFM not only relies on an aircraft's turn performance, but also on the pilot's ability to make trade-offs between airspeed (kinetic energy) and altitude (potential energy) to maintain an energy level that will allow the fighter to continue maneuvering efficiently. Most maneuvers are offensive, such as the "barrel roll attack", "high Yo-Yo", "low Yo-Yo", and "lag roll". Defensive maneuvers more often consist of turning very aggressively to avoid the attacker's guns, with maneuvers like the "break" and the "high Yo-Yo defense"; sometimes tightening the turn, sometimes relaxing it, and other times reversing the turn.

Basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) are used by fighter pilots during a dogfight to gain a positional advantage over an opponent. Pilots must have keen knowledge of not only their own aircraft's performance characteristics, but also of the opponents, taking advantage of their own strengths while exploiting the enemy's weaknesses. Pilots need good situation awareness, (Situation awareness (SA) involves being aware of what is happening in the vicinity, in order to understand how information, events, and one's own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future.) and the ability to maneuver against an opponent in three dimensions. BFM are generally grouped into two categories:
Primary BFM
Relative BFM
Primary maneuvers are those which are performed without respect to an enemy's position. These are often simple maneuvers, such as climbs, turns, aileron rolls, slow rolls, and rudder rolls. Relative maneuvers are performed in relation to the motion of another aircraft. These are often more complex, including energy saving maneuvers, such as the high and low Yo-Yos, and repositioning maneuvers such as displacement rolls. It is easy to fall into the trap of considering BFM to be a series of set maneuvers providing a foolproof recipe for a dominant position. The reality is that BFM are a series of fluid and often improvised proactive and reactive actions, varying infinitely according to range, altitude, speed, aircraft type, weapons system type and any of an enormous range of other factors. An extremely successful tactic one day may yield unfortunate results if repeated the next day, and pilots often credit luck as a major factor.
BFM are normally considered to be individual maneuvers, where ACM is applied to the tactics behind dogfighting as a whole. In military training, BFM are often conducted against an adversary in the same type of aircraft. This allows the pilot to fly against a machine with known performance values and allows aircrew to build their awareness of important concepts such as sight picture, rates of closure and line of sight rates that are cues to being successful in the visual arena. This also allows pilots to build their BFM skills against one another, without either having a particular technological advantage.
Dissimilar air combat training (DACT) consists of advanced maneuvers performed by aircraft of two separate types . This training is valuable in that both pilots are not as aware of the performance capabilities and characteristics of the other aircraft and, therefore, must rely on the fundamental BFM principles and evaluation/decision making skills to maneuver to an advantageous position versus their opponent. In this type of training, the advantages of one type of fighter may differ greatly from the advantages of the other, so pilots learn to refine their BFM skills to make use of the opponent's weaknesses. Using BFM as the building blocks for multiple aircraft maneuvers, such as the finger four, (which WG won't let us do) loose deuce, and Thach weave, pilots learn how to maneuver in situations involving one against one, one against two, two against two, two against many, or even one against many. This type of training, introduced during the last stages of flight school, is more like actual combat, and is the most beneficial for aircrew once basic BFM skills are mastered.
the last stages of flight school, is more like actual combat, and is the most beneficial for aircrew once basic BFM skills are mastered.BFM principles
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