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View Full Version : What Constitutes A Sortie?


vagabond
03-21-2011, 10:02 AM
I'm following the news about Libya and read in several places that coalition forces "flew 70 to 80 sorties on Monday, up from 60 on Sunday."

What is a sortie?

Is it the number of aircraft flown?
Number of bombs dropped from each aircraft?
What if it was a miss?
Count the Tomahawks, which I understand is launched from ships?
What if an aircraft encounters the enemy and has to engage?
Do the pilots keep track of his/her own sorties?

70 to 80 sorties implies that command doesn't know exactly how many?


USMCFLYR
03-21-2011, 10:06 AM
Vagabond -

From Dictionary.com:
the flying of an airplane on a combat mission.
Why the ambiguity? Probably because they don't want to give an exact number.
They know EXACTLY how many flights there were on any day - if you care to look deep enough.
Yes - pilots know how many sorties they have flown through a variety of means. All the same types of paperwork that any pilot / company keeps.

USMCFLYR

rickair7777
03-21-2011, 04:15 PM
Tomahawks don't count.

It doesn't matter what happens on the sortie, combat or not, it's still a sortie.

And yes they know exactly how many.


cencal83406
03-21-2011, 04:20 PM
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0RqVWoGk8rg/SHUZJRFeCZI/AAAAAAAABwc/mVvX5Er5nQU/s400/Sortie.jpg

:P

RickyBobby
03-21-2011, 04:36 PM
I'm following the news about Libya and read in several places that coalition forces "flew 70 to 80 sorties on Monday, up from 60 on Sunday."

What is a sortie?

Is it the number of aircraft flown? SOMEWHAT--# OF A/C & # OF TIMES IT/THEY ARE FLOWN
Number of bombs dropped from each aircraft? NO
What if it was a miss? N/A
Count the Tomahawks, which I understand is launched from ships? NO
What if an aircraft encounters the enemy and has to engage? NO
Do the pilots keep track of his/her own sorties? SOME DO, BUT THE ORGANIZATION IS SUPPOSED TO.

70 to 80 sorties implies that command doesn't know exactly how many?

According to the OPNAVINST 3710.7U (the rules Naval Aviators follow) a sortie is one flight. A flight is defined as:

For FW and TR aircraft-
When an "aircraft first moves forward on its takeoff run or takes off vertically from rest at any point of support and ends after airborne flight when the aircraft is on the surface for five minutes."

It becomes semi-vague for rotary wing assets-
"For helicopters, a flight begins when the aircraft lifts from a rest point or commences ground taxi and ends after airborne flight when the rotors are disengaged or the aircraft has been stationary for 5 minutes with rotors engaged."

As a result, many RW pilots log from rotors engaged to engine shutdown.

RB

vagabond
03-21-2011, 04:39 PM
Ok, I hate to pick nits, but I am still a little confused.

If a sortie, according to Dictionary.com, is "the flying of an airplane in combat," I have the follow up questions.

Helicopters don't count?
Flying gas stations don't count?
"70 to 80 sorties" means 70 to 80 unique airplanes?
Or can one airplane have more than one sortie?
Or is it simply that each time an airplane takes off on a mission, that is one sortie?

Man, this is like discussing the minutiae of a latte, a cappuccino, a white chocolate mocha, a dark chocolate mocha, 2% milk. Or how about discussing the difference between fat free milk and non-fat milk? :)

Addition: ah, I see RickyBobby answered my original questions. Let me examine them before asking any more.

RickyBobby
03-21-2011, 05:01 PM
Ok, I hate to pick nits, but I am still a little confused.

If a sortie, according to Dictionary.com, is "the flying of an airplane in combat," I have the follow up questions.

Helicopters don't count?
Flying gas stations don't count?
"70 to 80 sorties" means 70 to 80 unique airplanes?
Or can one airplane have more than one sortie?
Or is it simply that each time an airplane takes off on a mission, that is one sortie?

Man, this is like discussing the minutiae of a latte, a cappuccino, a white chocolate mocha, a dark chocolate mocha, 2% milk. Or how about discussing the difference between fat free milk and non-fat milk? :)

Addition: ah, I see RickyBobby answered my original questions. Let me examine them before asking any more.

The type of aircraft doesn't matter. I suspect UAVs are counted, these days. Here's two examples, hope they help.

1) A C-17 takes off from U.A.E. and flies to Kabul, Bagram, Kandahar, then back to U.A.E. Per the Navy definition, this would be 4 sorties even though only one aircraft was flown.
2) A flight of four F/A-18s depart from USS Ship in the Med, strike targets in N Africa, and return to the ship. Per the Navy definition, this would be 4 sorties.

The USAF may have a slightly different definition of a sortie.

RB

Pakagecheck
03-21-2011, 05:10 PM
Air Force same. Take off to 5 minutes after landing equals one sortie. 10 minutes or 15 hour duration equals one sortie. 20 airplanes fly 4 different times = 80 sorties. 80 planes fly once = 80 sorties. What you do in between doesn't matter. Helos and UAVs do count as sorties. USMCFLRY is spot on for the ambiguity.

N9373M
03-21-2011, 05:32 PM
How about "a takeoff and landing"???

Van Driver
03-21-2011, 05:38 PM
How about "a takeoff and landing"???
And not to include a touch and go

Spur
03-21-2011, 06:09 PM
And not to include a touch and go

How about stop and go? or full stop taxi back? or full stop rwy25 assault strip-depart rwy25? or offloading cargo and depart without stopping? or whatever else you can think of...

I like specific definitions that preclude ambiguity... rare in the military

USMCFLYR
03-21-2011, 06:13 PM
How about stop and go? or full stop taxi back? or full stop rwy25 assault strip-depart rwy25? or offloading cargo and depart without stopping? or whatever else you can think of...

I like specific definitions that preclude ambiguity... rare in the military

I guess each community could have its' own ambiguities, but in my community it wouldn't have matter for T&Gs or a full stop, followed by a taxi back - - it would still be one sortie. It was on the schedule for one flight.

A full stop at an outstation (like getting gas after a bombing flight) and then taking off back home again would be two sorties - two different lines on the schedule.

USMCFLYR

EP11
03-21-2011, 06:28 PM
And not to include a touch and go

How about stop and go? or full stop taxi back? or full stop rwy25 assault strip-depart rwy25? or offloading cargo and depart without stopping? or whatever else you can think of...

I like specific definitions that preclude ambiguity... rare in the military

I don't have my forms regulation handy, but a ground time of xx (thinking 15 or 30) minutes will generate a break in the forms. This will generate another line and create an additional sortie.

Spur
03-21-2011, 07:14 PM
I don't have my forms regulation handy, but a ground time of xx (thinking 15 or 30) minutes will generate a break in the forms. This will generate another line and create an additional sortie.

AFI 11-401

Sortie—An AFTO Form 781 aircraft sortie begins when the aircraft begins to move forward on takeoff or takes off vertically from rest at any point of support. It ends after airborne flight when the aircraft returns to the surface and either of the following conditions occur: a) the engines are stopped, or the aircraft is on the surface for five minutes, whichever occurs first; or, b) a change is made in the crew which enplanes or deplanes a crewmember. For logging aircrew proficiency training, on missions during which some crewmembers deplane and the remaining crew from the original takeoff re-launch, this may be considered to be a continuation of the original aircrew sortie. MAJCOMs may establish MDS-specific crew requirements and procedures for aircrew continuation sorties.

EP11
03-21-2011, 08:17 PM
AFI 11-401

Sortie—An AFTO Form 781 aircraft sortie begins when the aircraft begins to move forward on takeoff or takes off vertically from rest at any point of support. It ends after airborne flight when the aircraft returns to the surface and either of the following conditions occur: a) the engines are stopped, or the aircraft is on the surface for five minutes, whichever occurs first; or, b) a change is made in the crew which enplanes or deplanes a crewmember. For logging aircrew proficiency training, on missions during which some crewmembers deplane and the remaining crew from the original takeoff re-launch, this may be considered to be a continuation of the original aircrew sortie. MAJCOMs may establish MDS-specific crew requirements and procedures for aircrew continuation sorties.

Thanks for the straight answer. 5 minutes. Learned something new. Pretty sure I could add another 50 sorties to my career totals if I had used the 5 minute criteria religiously throughout my career. Full stop taxi backs often exceed this.

Cheers

Pakagecheck
03-21-2011, 08:59 PM
Thanks for the straight answer. 5 minutes. Learned something new.

whew, glad I wasn't making it up.

Ftrooppilot
03-22-2011, 02:43 AM
Wikipedia - "In military aviation (http://www.airlinepilotforums.com/wiki/Military_aviation), it is used to indicate the total usages of individual machines, so that (for example) one mission involving six aircraft would tally six sorties."

The term "sortie" was not used at our Squadron level in Vietnam. We used the slang term "counters" refering to the twenty "combat missions" (anything flown in the combat zone) needed to qualify for an Air Medal.

To preclude "running up" the total, we (Ranch Hand) were allowed only one counter per day despite the fact we might have flown three combat missions (sorties). If every mission counted I would have come home with twenty seven air medals.

Don't know how the Army did it with helicoper pilots who flew numerous missions per day.