DRAFT - February 1998




FM 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB), is the manual that explains the IPB process. This appendix will describe the process as it applies to air defense operations. IPB allows the commander and the intelligence staff to predict where and when the enemy will strike, and what assets he will use. The modern battlefield is viewed in three dimensions: width, depth, and airspace. This airspace, or aerial dimension, is the most dynamic and fast paced of the three dimensions. The intelligence staff must consider all the aspects of air operations and must be aware of the capabilities of all air threats, to include missiles; multi-mission UAVs; rotary and fixed wing aircraft. The G2/S2 should rely heavily on input from the air defense and aviation officers while integrating air aspects into the IPB process. The IPB process has four steps:

· Define the battlefield environment

· Evaluate the threat

· Describe the battlefield’s effects.

· Determine threat courses of action

As air IPB is conducted from a different perspective than that of ground IPB, the terrain and weather have correspondingly different effects on air and air defense operations. Enemy forces must be evaluated in relation to the effects weather, terrain, and friendly operations will have on them. The five threats that must be evaluated for air IPB are:

· Unmanned aerial vehicles

· Missiles

· Airborne and Air Assault forces

· Rotary wing aircraft

· Fixed wing aircraft




Battlefield Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Battlefield Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Evaluation of the Air Threat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Air Threat Courses of Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .






The battlefield includes aerial dimensions to an area of operations, battle space, and an area of interest. Because of the aerial dimension, each of these parts of the battlefield framework may be different from that of ground force operations. Since most air operations support ground operations, it is important that air is not separated from the IPB process.


The air area of operations is the area where the commander is assigned responsibility and authority for military operations. It is identical to the ground in width and depth, and extends vertically up to the maximum altitude of friendly ADA systems.


Battle space is a physical volume that expands or contracts in relation to the ability to acquire and engage the enemy. AS the commander positions and moves assets overtime it in breadth, depth, and height. Battle space is not assigned by a higher commander and can extend beyond the commander's area of operations.


The area of interest is the geographic area from which information and intelligence are required to facilitate planning or successful conduct of the commander's operation. Because the commander and staff need time to process information and to plan and synchronize operations, the commander's area of interest is generally larger than the area of operations or battle space. Due to the great distances that aircraft and missiles can rapidly cover, the air area of interest will extend vertically and horizontally to cover the maximum service ceilings and ranges of threat air systems. Horizontally, it will extend to cover them maximum range of aircraft, UAVs, and missiles, plus threat airfields, forward arming and refueling points, navigation aids, and missile sites. The area of interest extends to the limits from which intelligence and information must be gathered about enemy forces which could affect friendly forces.



The nature of airspace does not eliminate the need for terrain analysis. Enemy air and friendly ADA will still attempt to use terrain to their own best advantage. Air IPB focuses on the impact of geographic factors on the ability of threat air to approach, acquire, and engage a target or deliver airborne or air assault troops. . Analysis of the terrain for air IPB follows the same principles as ground analysis, and uses the military aspects of terrain, OCOKA.

(1) Observation and Fields of Fire

Observation and fields of fire relates to the influence of terrain on reconnaissance and target acquisition. In the IPB context, observation relates to optical and electronic line-of-site (LOS). Many battlefield operating systems require LOS to effectively acquire and engage targets. These systems include radios, radars, jammers, direct-fire weapons, and airborne and ground observers. Fields of fire relate to the terrain effects on weapon systems. Battlefield airspace must be analyzed with regard to routes which provide the best protection for air threats entering the target area, and those which provide the best fields of fire once they reach the target area.

(2) Cover and Concealment

Cover and concealment has slightly different applications with respect to air systems. There are several tactics and techniques which fall into the context of cover and concealment and are defined as follows:

(a) Contour Flying. Contour flying is flight at low altitude conforming generally, and in close proximity, to the contours of the earth. This flight takes advantage of available cover and concealment in order to avoid observation or detection of the aircraft. It is characterized by a constant airspeed and a varying altitude as vegetation and obstacles dictate.

(b) Pop-up Tactics. The pop-up technique offers the pilot several advantages. By using a low altitude approach and escape, he minimizes his exposure to air defense. He also gains some degree of deception and tactical surprise. The pilot uses terrain masking to pop-up, fire, and withdraw.

(c) Masking. Masking uses terrain to protect an air system from visual and electronic observation or detection. The following illustration (Figure A-1) depicts the technique of masking.

Figure B-1 Masking.

(d) Cover. Cover is protection from the effects of fire. Cover uses terrain to provide protection from direct fire weapon systems.

(e) Ground Clutter. Clutter can be characterized as a reduction of signal to noise ratio due to the signature of a background. It is different for each type of terrain or feature.

Threat air systems will use contour flying, masking, and ground clutter to avoid detection and to provide cover from direct fires. Air systems will also use the terrain by loitering on reverse slopes, using pop-up tactics, and by using ground clutter and vegetation as a backdrop to enhance concealment.

(3) Obstacles

Obstacles are broken down into three primary types. Of particular interest are obstacles and terrain which restrict lateral movement within an avenue of approach or movement corridor; canalizing movement or restricting evasive action. Additionally, terrain may stop the employment of certain air threat systems if the terrain exceeds the system's maximum operating ceiling. The three primary types of obstacles are:

· Those which prevent the effective employment of air defense systems.

· Those which restrict contour flights (constant altitude above ground level-AGL of less than 22.8 meters).

· Those which force air threats to employ a particular attack profile or route, or to gain excessive altitude.

(4) Key Terrain

Key terrain is any locality or area in which the seizure, retention, or control will afford a marked tactical advantage to either combatant. In air IPB these consist of terrain features which canalize or constrain air threat systems, and terrain with an elevation higher than the maximum ceiling of air threat systems. Additionally, areas that can be used for airfields, landing zones (LZ), drop zones (DZ), or FARPs also need to be considered as key terrain, since these areas could be used to support friendly or threat air operations.

(5) Air Avenues of Approach

Air avenues of approach are evaluated using the same criteria as for ground. A good air avenue of approach will permit maneuver while providing terrain masking from surface-to-air weapon systems. A twisted arrow will be used to denote air avenues of approach. See the Air Avenues of Approach illustration (Figure B-2). Red arrows will represent threat avenues of approach and blue will represent friendly avenues. Ensure that each air avenue of approach is numbered.

Figure B-2. Air avenues of approach.

Some common air avenues of approach are:

· valleys

· river bed

· direct lines from the enemy point of origin.

Factors which should be used to determine air avenues of approach, both ingress and egress, are:

(a) Type Of Air Threat The following paragraphs define the types and air threat. These definitions are used for the IPB process.

· Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. UAV are small and elusive. They usually fly low and their altitudes can vary.

· Missiles. Some cruise missiles are terrain following. Ballistic missiles are not terrain dependent.

· Rotary Wing. Rotary wing aircraft primarily conduct contour flights. They follow ridge lines and military crests.

· Fixed Wing. Fixed wing aircraft usually follow major terrain and man-made features such as rivers or roads. Depending on range, they may fly straight line. Ordnance or payload may affect range and altitude of the air system and thus influence the selection of avenues of approach.

(b) Air Threat Point Of Origin. Air threat point of origin always begins at the threat operating base (airstrip or FOB) and works toward the enemy objective. This allows a look at the big picture. When determining air avenues do not stop at the edge of the commander's battle space. An air avenue may look good on the map, but there could be a mountain or an urban area which could discourage the use of that avenue.

(c) Potential To Support Maneuver. Air assets are used to achieve ground objectives. Ground objectives can be the destruction of forces, logistics bases, and geopolitical targets.

(d) Freedom To Maneuver While Using The Air Avenue. To determine the freedom to maneuver while using the air avenue, determine if the avenue:

· Canalizes the air system. · Has access to adjacent avenues.

· Assists in navigation · Provides the ability to acquire a target or use of

available munitions (a good ordnance release line).

(e) Providing Protection For The Air System And Pilot In providing protection for the air system and pilot, determine if the avenue provides:

· Terrain masking (cover and concealment). · Protection from air defense weapon systems and tactical air support.

· For the full use of air speed. · For standoff orbit and orbit location.

· Protection against radar detection.

(f) Air Threat And Pilot Capabilities. The air system and pilot can:

· Perform contour flying. · Fly in all weather conditions.

· Fly at night. · Range the targets.


Air operations are especially susceptible to the effects of weather. Weather analysis for air operations is designed to predict the most likely time over target and other considerations based on weather effects and light data. Many of the same factors as ground operations are as follows:

· Visibility. Visibility has a significant impact on air operations and RISTA. Visibility has the same effects on visually-directed ADA systems and sensors.

· High Winds. High winds will hinder maneuver, close air support, and target engagement. This is especially true in tight air avenues of approach. Missiles and UAVs will be adversely affected in performance and accuracy.

· Precipitation. Precipitation affects air system performance and reduces the effectiveness of sensors. Precipitation reduces ADA sensor range.

· Cloud Cover and Ceilings. Cloud cover and ceilings may restrict operations by setting low operational ceilings and restricting visibility and target engagement.

· Extreme Temperatures and Humidity. Extreme temperatures and humidity have a severe effect on air systems by decreasing combat range and altitude (particularly rotary wing aircraft).


Threat evaluation for air IPB consists of a detailed study of enemy air capabilities, organization, and doctrine. The following three steps should be used when evaluating the threat:


Typical questions which should be answered during this step must also include the commander’s critical information requirements and priority intelligence requirements. They are follows:

· What are the major strategic, operational, and tactical objectives of the enemy's air operations?

· Which objectives may be targeted for destruction or suppression?

· Where do friendly air defense assets fit into the enemy's objectives? Do they need to be destroyed or suppressed for the enemy plan to work?

· What is the enemy's air order of battle? How are his assets organized? Knowledge of threat organization, and who has operational control, will indicate the importance of the area of operations. For example, if the enemy's SU-24s are at theater level and you are seeing SU-24s in your area, then you are probably receiving the theater's main attack. What is the size of his ballistic missile brigade/battalion/battery? Does he fire as a unit?

· How will UAVs be used (for example, BDA, RISTA, or attack)? What are the associated profiles?

· How does the enemy doctrinally attack? Will the enemy use airborne or air assault forces in conjunction with an air or ground attack? Will he synchronize the air attack? Does he have the capability to coordinate an air strike (possibly with varied air threat platforms that can overmatch friendly air defense capability)?

· What the air system ingress and egress speeds?

· What are the TBM/UAV launch points? What are the likely targets? What is the range and endurance of these systems?

· What are the doctrinal distances for forward arming and refueling points? If the enemy's maximum range falls short of your area of operations, template where the enemy is likely to stop and refuel.

· Close air support (CAS). What is the enemy's capability to coordinate air-to-ground attacks?

· Battlefield air interdiction. How and where will the enemy attack ground targets?

· Suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD). What is the enemy's capability to coordinate air and artillery operations?

· Flight profile. At what altitude will the enemy approach the target, deliver munitions, and exit the target area?

· Release authority of certain types of ordnance. This is particularly important when dealing with NBC threats.


ADA units evaluate a broad range of order of battle data and threat capabilities to include the ground force and EW threat to ADA units. They also evaluate the answers to the following questions.

(1) Aircraft

What are the capabilities of their systems in terms of:

· Performance (speed, altitude, airfield restrictions, troop/weapon load capacity).

· Endurance/range of UAVs. Ingress/egress altitudes and speeds.

· Levels of combat readiness.

· Can rotary wing aircraft conduct pop-up maneuvers? What is the stand-off range for firing ATGMs/rockets?

· Target acquisition (visual, radar, laser guided), night capability, acquisition, and identification ranges.

· The stand-off ranges for aerodynamic (cruise and tactical air-to-surface) missiles.

· Ordnance load (maximum weight, type, load mixture).

· Personnel load.

· Navigational capability (type of radar, can it fly at night or in adverse conditions?)

· Combat radius (with or without external tanks, ordnance, location of staging bases).

· Loiter time (how long will it have on station over the target area?)

· Countermeasures Environment? For example, stand-off jammers, ground-based jammers, or reconnaissance/chaff-laying UAVs or aircraft. Will these degrade friendly air defense systems?

· Crew Proficiency. Can pilots fly at night or perform contour flying? During peace time did the pilot conduct the type of mission he is expected to conduct during war?

· What are the types and capabilities of threat ordnance? Each type of ordnance should be evaluated for the following capabilities.

-Range. Assume engagement at maximum range and two-thirds maximum range. What is the accuracy of the ordnance?

-Release altitude. How high or low must the aircraft fly? Can it be released in a pop-up technique?

-Reload and Refire. What is the reload and refire time? What is the maximum number of missiles available?

-Warhead. What is the warhead type? For example, is it an NBC, HE, or submunitions warhead? What is the release altitude?

· Guidance modes. How does the pilot acquire and engage? For example, is it acquired using wire guide, TV, fire and forget, or a laser beam rider?

(2) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

What are the capabilities of threat UAVs in terms of :

· Performance (speed, altitude, and launch restrictions)?

· Endurance and range?

· Target acquisition and standoff range?

· Sensor package and payload (maximum weight, type, and load mixture)?

(3) Missiles

What are the capabilities of threat missiles in terms of

-Performance (flight time, speed, altitude, and launch restrictions)?

-Maximum and minimum ranges?

-Targeting capabilities and type?

-Contour flying capability?

-Warhead type and size?

-Circular error of probability?


Target value evaluation should determine what targets are to be labeled as high value targets (HVT). HVTs are assets the enemy or friendly commander has deemed as important for the successful accomplishment of his mission. HVTs are determined by operational necessity and weapon system capability.


Determining air threat courses of action, as with ground, relates the enemy's air, counterair, air defense, and airborne and air assault doctrines with the effects of weather and terrain to determine how the enemy will employ their assets. This is accomplished through the development of the situation, event, and decision support templates. The process for developing these templates is covered in FM 34-130.

The situation template integrates air attack profiles with terrain, focusing on specific air avenues of approach and mobility corridors, to determine which avenues are the most capable of supporting specific attack techniques, profiles, and the most direct routes to DZs/LZs to protect and ensure the survivability of air threat systems. They usually depict the most critical point in the operations agreed upon by the G2 and G3.

The event template depicts points, named areas of interest, (NAIs) where you expect to see certain activities of tactical significance and is used to confirm or deny an enemy course of action. In air IPB these NAIs are based on the terrain constraints on air approach routes to potential targets and analysis of the enemy's attack profiles. Examples of NAIs include DZs/LZs, FARPs, forward staging areas, and aerial choke points.

The decision support template is based on situation and event templates, event matrix, and the wargaming of friendly COA should depict:

· Air avenues of approach. · Ranges of friendly air defense systems.

· LZs/DZs. · Target areas of interest (TAIs).

· Ranges of enemy systems. · Decision points (DPs).

Air TAIs and DPs are determined in the same manner as for ground operations. However, due to the high speeds of air systems, decision points must be placed significantly farther in advance of the TAIs.

In conclusion, IPB in support of air defense operations is a quantified, step-by-step process that examines enemy air and ground activity, and identifies gaps in intelligence holdings. This process will allow the commander and his staff to direct his collection assets to enable them to visualize the battlefield and understand the enemy's intentions. Preparation and continuous updates of aerial IPB are fundamental to the execution of the air defense mission on the modern battlefield. Preparation and continuous updates of IPB from an air perspective are fundamental to the execution of the air defense mission on the modern battlefield.