Air Operations Center (AOC) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Twelfth Air Force (12AF) Air Force Forces (AFFOR)



1. GENERAL: Command and Control (C2) in the AOC is exercised through the Airspace Control Center (ACC) which is composed of airspace management and air defense planning cells. The functions of these cells are directly related to the JFACC’s role as the Airspace Control Authority (ACA) and Area Air Defense Commander (AADC). The ACC supports both Combat Plans and Combat Operations with individual cells located in each division. In Combat Plans, the ACC is responsible for developing the Airspace Control Order (ACO) whereas the Combat Operations ACC is responsible for executing the ACO by making real time changes and deconflicting immediate requests for airspace. The ACC is also responsible for developing and distributing several other critical documents--the Airspace Control Plan (ACP), Air Defense Plan (ADP), and TACOPDAT and OPTASK LINK messages. Normally, the ACC is manned by air traffic control and air defense officers/enlisted, and other liaisons as required.

2. CHIEF, AIRSPACE CONTROL CENTER: The Chief, ACC is responsible to both the Chiefs of Combat Plans and Operations for coordinating and managing C2 to include all airspace management and air defense planning activities. The Chief, ACC will:

a. Develop plans, policies, and procedures for airspace control and control of military air traffic.

b. Ensure Command and Control Spins are developed and disseminated.

c. Coordinate airspace requests and matters affecting military aircraft control with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), military units, foreign agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other applicable federal agencies.

d. Ensure communication exists between airspace/air defense control and tactical air control centers.

e. Evaluate existing airspace control systems and determine changes necessary to fulfill air traffic control missions of these systems, and ensure seamless integration with Air Defense, Theater Missile Defense, and joint/combined air operations.

f. Advise Chief, Combat Plans Division and/or JFACC on airspace control regulations/procedures.

g. Provide for establishment, augmentation, relocation, reduction, or discontinuation of airspace control facilities and navigation aids in addition to monitoring the status of terminal air traffic control facilities.

h. Develop procedures for hand-off of air traffic between airport control agencies and TACS controlling agencies, to include scramble and recovery procedures.

i. Prepare airspace control instructions for inclusion in the ATO.

j. Review and approve the ACO for submission to the Chief, Combat Plans for dissemination.

k. Prepare briefings on airspace control procedures and status of control facilities as required.

l. Maintain a daily events log reflecting all agreements made regarding control of air traffic and disposition of significant airspace/air defense changes.

m. Ensure timely distribution of the TACOPDAT and OPTASK LINK messages.

n. Monitor the air defense planning process and provide support as required.

APPENDIX 1 - C2 Spins Development

APPENDIX 2 - Combat Airspace

APPENDIX 3 - Air Defense




1. GENERAL: The Command and Control (C2), Safe Passage, and Airspace Control SPINS will be developed and fully coordinated by the Airspace Control Center (ACC). These SPINS are used as the primary means to supplement and promulgate information in the Airspace Control Order (ACO), the Air Defense Plan, OPTASK LINK, and TACOPDAT.

2. SPINS DEVELOPMENT: When writing spins, ensure that they are written in accordance with 12 AF SOP, Chapter 3, Annex B Appendix 11. As a general rule, the C2 spins should clarify any special instructions that are needed by aircrews to safely accomplish their missions. Although they are not all inclusive, the following items should probably be addressed in the spins:

a. Air Defense procedures (C2 SPINS) and Safe Passage Procedures.

b. Any additional guidance/directives/information that weapons system operators and/or aircrews will be held accountable for, i.e. LOAs, Host-Nation restrictions, Base Defense Zone (BDZ) procedures, special weapons systems control procedures (ATACMS, UAVs, TALCM/ALCMs, etc. (Airspace Control SPINS)

c. Provide guidance on spillouts from corridors, MRRs, orbits, (MOAs and restricted areas during exercises) etc., and how they will be resolved. Also, state whether buffers will be used in the ACO and what impact it will have on aircrews. (Airspace Control SPINS, repeat buffers in the ACO header)

d. State when ACMREQs need to be turned in. For example, "Airspace Control Means Requests (ACMREQs) for the next day's ATO must be submitted to the Airspace Control Cell in the AOC NLT xxxxZ the day prior to when the airspace is required." (Airspace Control SPINS)

d. Direct that airspace issues, concerns, or problems must be addressed and staffed at the Airspace Control Cell. Also, mention that airspace requests outside of the AOC must be forwarded through the respective services AOC liaisons or Wing Operations Center to the Airspace Control Cell in the AOC. (Airspace Control SPINS)

e. Detailed procedures for which altimeter setting is to be used, i.e. 29.92 or local, and what the transition altitude is, if required. (ACO Header, as a minimum)

f. Entry/Exit Procedures into operational/exercise airspace to include the controlling agencies and frequencies. (Airspace Control SPINS, ACO)

g. What procedures, if any, are established to assist aircrews encountering IMC (generally used when CONUS ranges/MOAs are used and aircraft are to remain in VMC).

h. List procedures to be used for emergency and NORDO aircraft. (Safe Passage)

I. List communication/hand-off procedures between AWACS and the FAA Centers. (Airspace Control SPINS - Exercise only)

j. List any special aircraft Identification Criteria. (C2 SPINS)




1. GENERAL: In the AOC, Combat Airspace management is performed by the Airspace Control Cell of the Airspace Control Center (ACC). The goal of Combat Airspace Management is to enhance air, land, maritime, and special operations force effectiveness in accomplishing the Joint Force Commander’s objectives, while decreasing the potential for fratricide.

2. AIRSPACE CONTROL CELL: There are two Airspace Control Cells located in the AOC--one in Combat Plans and the other in Combat Operations. The primary function of the Combat Plans Division (CPD) Airspace Control Cell is to develop the Airspace Control Plan (ACP) and to publish the Airspace Control Order (ACO). In the Combat Operations Division (COD), the Airspace Control Cell’s primary function is to execute the daily ACO by making real time airspace changes and to deconflict immediate use airspace requests. The Airspace Control Cell usually consists of joint service officers, NCOs, and civilians in addition to allied nation representatives, all of which report to the Chief, ACC.

3. CHIEF, COMBAT PLANS AIRSPACE CONTROL CELL is generally an officer whose primary function is to manage the activities in either the COD or CPD cells. The Chief, Combat Plans Airspace Control Cell reports to the Chief, Airspace Control Center and will assist with any other duties assigned. In addition, the Chief, Airspace Control Cell will:

a. Supervise the development/execution of airspace management plans and ACOs.

b. Provide inputs on airspace considerations for ATO development and execution.

c. Coordinate with the air defense planners, ATO production, and other airspace liaisons on matters concerning ACO development, production and dissemination.

3. AIRSPACE MANAGERS are generally Senior NCOs or civilians whose primary function is to assist in the management of the Airspace Control Cell they are assigned to. In addition, Airspace Managers will:

a. Develop daily ACOs.

b. Deconflict Airspace Control Means Requests (ACMREQS).

c. Plot maps and charts when required.

d. Coordinate with ATO production for transfer of ACO into APS for air battle planning.

e. Ensure daily ACOs sent to COD Airspace Control Cell contain only active airspace.

4. ACP DEVELOPMENT: The ACP is the document that allows the JFACC to establish broad airspace control guidance when appointed as the Airspace Control Authority (ACA). When creating an ACP, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the basic operation plan, host-nation and multinational political constraints, capabilities of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, and where friendly forces are to be located. Knowing these items is just the beginning. For the ACP to be of any real use, it must contain some of the following items:

a. A description of all the ACMs and how they are to be used, including all fire support coordination measures.

b. Explanation or plan of how military ATC resources are to be employed and integrated into the existing ATC system.

c. How Air Defense units will interface within the ATC system, even during degraded operations.

d. What effect the Rules of Engagement (ROE) will play on airspace control and air defense.

e. Explanation/plan on how operations will transition from peacetime to combat or vice versa.

f. State whether or not the JFACC will serve as the ACA and AADC.

These are just a few of the considerations that need to be taken into account during the ACP development. See figure 1 below for more details.


5. ACO DEVELOPMENT: The ACO is the document that implements the ACP. In broad terms, it provides the mechanism for the JFACC, in the role as the ACA, to maintain control over the airspace. To create an ACO, airspace requests are submitted by the users to the Airspace Control Cell in the form of ACMREQs (see Tab A). Airspace Managers will then enter the airspace requests in the CTAPS Airspace Deconfliction System (ADS) and will deconflict them via the ACMREQ approval process (see figure 2).


When all conflicts have been resolved or the associated risks accepted, the ACO will be incorporated into the daily ATO and sent out. Figure 3 below shows the overall ACO approval process.


However, in order for the ACO to be a meaningful document for airspace control, it must contain information on every user of the airspace system. As a minimum, the Airspace Control Cell must receive inputs from the following agencies/AOC POCs:

a. Reconnaissance Units or the Collection Management Agencies

b. ALCC/Airlift Planning Branch (APB)

c. Force Enhancement

d. Electronic Warfare

e. Air Defense Planners

f. CAS

g. Naval/Marine Liaisons

h. BCE

i. SOF

6. IMMEDIATE/PLANNED AIRSPACE REQUESTS: The Airspace Control Cells in Combat Operations and Combat Plans can provide immediate changes/modifications to airspace as the battle progresses. The difference between an immediate change request and a planned change request is the point in the ATO process that the change is requested or required.

a. Planned Change Requests: These occur during the ATO planning process, before the ATO goes into execution. The Airspace Control Cell in Combat Plans makes the change to the ACO based upon new requirements that are identified as the planning process occurs. These changes can be made up to the time when the ACO is pushed to the ATO for publication. However, all conflicts that occur when the airspace change is entered into the Airspace Deconfliction System (ADS) are resolved PRIOR to ACO publication. After this time, the airspace request becomes an immediate request that must be made with the Combat Operations Airspace Control Cell. Examples of such changes include the shifting orbits based upon the battle situation and drop zones for Special Operations Forces missions.

b. Immediate Change Requests: These occur either after the ATO is published or after ATO execution begins as a result of changing battlefield conditions and/or mission re-rolls. Changes are entered by Combat Operations Airspace personnel into ADS to check for conflicts. Once any/all conflicts are resolved, changes are e-mailed to appropriate agencies within and outside the AOC for implementation. Examples of such changes include immediate missile launches and search and rescue missions.



TAB A - ACMREQ Form Procedures





I. Requester’s Information

Rank/Name: _________________________ Phone:

AOC Position: _________________________ Unit:

II. ACM Information: Fill Out All Applicable Items (Instructions on reverse)

ACM Name: Type:

Date/Time: / (Options on Back)

(check one)

 New Effective From: (Date/Time) /  Continuous  Discrete

 Change To: (Date/Time) /


Latitude/Longitude (WGS84 Only): List points in sequential order.

1. 4. 7.

2. 5. 8.

3. 6. 9.

(Continue On Separate Page)

WIDTH: ________NM RADIUS: ________NM TURNS: N/A  Left  Right  Center 

Altitude: (low) (high) AGL  MSL 

ACM Description/Remarks:

II. Airspace Use Only

Airspace Manager Quality Check: (initials) Plans  Ops  Plotted: Plans  (initials)

Ops  (initials)

Conflicts? NO  Þ ACM Approved by: (initials) (date)

YES  Conflicting ACMs:

IV. Requester Coordination: Contacts, Action Taken to resolve conflicts, etc.

V. Airspace Use Only

Conflicts Still Exist? NO  Þ ACM Approved by: (initials) (date)

YES  Þ ACM Disapproved  Þ Return to Requester For Resubmission

Þ User(s) accepts risk Þ ACM Approved by (initials) (date)

NOTE: Keep the Chief, Combat Ops involved when Accepting Risk for ACMs in Combat Operations.




I. Requester’s Information:

· Rank/Name--Self Explanatory.

· Phone--List the phone # where you can be reached in the AOC. If you are an augmentee during a planning phase, please include a DSN # where you can be reached at your home unit.

· AOC Position--List the AOC position you will be working at.

· Unit--List the unit you are permanently assigned to.

II. ACM Information: Fill Out All Applicable Items

· ACM Name--You can name it whatever you want to, except it can not be named "exactly" like the ACM type. For example, you can name a ROZ: "ROZ1," but not "ROZ." Try to standardize ACM names with the mission if at all possible, i.e. Cobra Ball, RJ, Commando Solo, Senior Scout, etc.

· Type--The following list contains valid ACM types: (Let us know if you need one that is not listed)








· Date/Time--this is the date and time of the request.

· New/Change/Delete--Check one box. This is the action requested for the ACM you are listing.

· Effective--These are the specific date(s)/time(s) requested for the ACM.

· Continuous/Discrete--If the ACM will be active for a 24 hour period and for an undetermined number of days, then check continuous. However, if the ACM is to be used for set periods of time throughout a day or given number of days, then mark discrete. Please note, it is virtually impossible for every airspace user to have their airspace active continuously for 24 hours a day due to airspace constraints. Therefore, use discrete times as much as possible unless the mission requires more time, i.e. 24 hour CAPS, etc.

· Latitude/Longitude--UTM data will not be accepted. List the points in sequential order with your first point at #1. Please Note: For mission planning, CTAPS chooses the first point you list (i.e. the first point we enter into ADS) as the entry point into that piece of airspace. This means that if an aircraft departs a base from the south and heads north to a N/S oriented refueling track where the northern most point was listed first, CTAPS will automatically plan fuel for this mission to the farthest point even though in reality the aircraft will enter the IP at the southern most point.

· Width--The actual width of the ACM in Nautical Miles (NM). (May not be applicable for some ACMs)

· Radius--The actual radius of the ACM in Nautical Miles (NM). (May not be applicable for some ACMs)

· Turns--This is how you want your airspace oriented. For example, if you list two points for a holding fix with a 10 mile radius and check "Left", ADS will draw the right hand side of your orbit at the two points you listed with the orbit offset 10 miles to the left. Therefore, it is very critical that you check the box that coincides with the way the airspace should be orientated. (Check "N/A" if this is not be applicable for your ACM)

· Altitude--Indicate what are the lower and upper vertical limits of the ACM. Check either AGL or MSL.

· ACM Description/Remarks--Please provide information about your ACM here, i.e. utilization, purpose, special instructions, restrictions, etc.

III. Airspace Use Only

· This section will be used by Airspace personnel to document ACMREQ deconfliction and plotting.

IV. Requester Coordination: Contacts, Action Taken to resolve conflicts, etc.

If conflicts are detected in ADS, it is the requester’s responsibility to coordinate with the POCs of all the conflicting ACMs to find a resolution. These solutions should be noted on the front of this ACMREQ. When acceptable solutions have been found, return this form to the airspace personnel for entry into ADS.

V. Airspace Use Only

· This section is for the final approval after conflicts have/have not been resolved. If the ACMREQ still has conflicts and POCs decide to accept the risk, the Chief, Combat Ops must be involved.



1. GENERAL: Air Defense Planning is performed by the AOC Airspace Control Center in the Combat Plans Division. Although there is a great deal of coodination with the Airspace Control Cell, Air Defense Planing is directly related to the JFACC’s role as the Area Air Defense Commander (AADC). One of the basic responsibilities of this branch is to develop and distribute the Air Defense Plan (ADP), and the TACOPDAT and OPTASKLINK messages.

2. AIR DEFENSE PLANNING SECTION: This section will plan and coordinate the employment of all air and ground command and control systems assigned to the AADC. It is the primary liaison between the joint force and allied forces for air defense planning issues. The air defense section also serves as the focal point for the effective integration of each nation's command and control systems into the theater air control system.

3. The Chief, Air Defense Planning will:

a. Develop and coordinate air defense procedures with all Air Force, other service, Host Nation, and allied air defense forces for inclusion in the ACP (figure 1), ADP, ACO, SPINS, TACOPDAT, or ATO. Also ensure the Concept of Operations, Command and Control SPINS, and Rules of Engagement adequately support the ADP.



b. Negotiate agency-to-agency agreements and maintain liaison with other services and allied forces on all matters relating to command and control, and employment of air defense resources.

c. In coordination with other planning branches, specify the employment of air defense resources, including fighters, missiles, and command and control systems and platforms.

d. Develop, coordinate, and promulgate the OPTASKLINK (Figure 2) and TACOPDAT (Figure 3), theater data link tasking documents, with all Air Force, other service, Host Nation, and allied air defense forces.




e. Coordinate with communication personnel and all frequency users to ensure a comprehensive communications plan is developed that provides frequency management and communications support to the theater air control system.

f. Plan for the offensive and defensive employment of the friendly theater air control system.

g. Monitor air control facility projected status and adjust air defense region and air surveillance sector boundaries as well as control responsibilities based on operational status and capabilities of radar elements and the load imposed by tactical missions.

4. Air defense planners will develop and distribute the OPTASKLINK and TACOPDAT messages, coordinate air defense requirements with airspace management, and assist the Chief, Air Defense Planning with other duties as required.



Air Operations Center (AOC) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Twelfth Air Force (12AF) Air Force Forces (AFFOR)