Radar Acronyms


Space & Electronic Warfare Acronyms

Joe Cyr's Space & Electronic Warfare web site

Radar Jargon

[More to come as I receive addtions. Send'em in!]

Anti-aircraft-artillery - Army personnel attached to radar sight to co-ordinate firing on enemy aircraft
Officially, "Aircraft Control and Warning"; unofficially / humorously, "Always Cleaning and Waxing"; "Alchoholics, Cripples & Whores","Always Confused & Wondering", "Alcohol, Cigarettes & Women"
Automatic Clutter Elimination
Azimuth Clock Pulse (1 ACP=0.088 degrees.  4096 ACP's = 360 Degrees)
Air Defense Command
Air Defense Identification Zone - a site's area of responsibility. It is an invisible boundary between Canada, Mexico and the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans and aircraft entering into the U.S. airspace need to have filed a flight plan before entering so that they may be identified
Automatic Frequency Control
Agreement for Fighter Interceptor Operations
All-weather Interceptor (has radar)
Air Lock
A room in the radar tower that you pressurize so that you can enter into the dome
A street in the sky that measures 10 mi. wide. (5 mi. either side of the Center Line).  The airway is prefixed by the letter "V" followed by a number or a color followed by a number such as Red 4, Green 10
Radar not fully operationally (some problem with one or more  normal capabilites
Air Movement Intelligence Section - Identifies all aircraft entering the ADIZ, and Restricted Area. If no information available the unknown aircraft is "scrambled" on
An aircraft's altitude in thousands of feet
Anomalous Propagation ( radar returns usually caused by temperature inversion)
Radar intercept exercise, highest level.
Airport Surveillance Radar (typically S-band, 60 miles max from Radar)
Automatic Secure Voice Communications. A special telephone system for highly secure information. The message was was scrambled at the transmission end and unscrambled at the receiving end, with a much lower voice quality that was difficult to understand as a result. Also referred to as the GARBLESEVOCOM.
B Scope
Radar scope presenting range and azimuth in rectangular coordinates (as on the CPS-6B)
Bent Weapon
Radar out of service either for maintenance or needing repair
Beat Frequency Oscillator, also had several X-rated meanings
Radar Intercept exercise
Blankety Blank Blank Infernal Machine
Oath uttered by any man that ever worked on a GPA/37
The scaffolding behind the large plotting board upon which plotters stood to reach the top of the board
Blind Area, Blind Zone
Blind Area, Blind Spot – usually the angle where the HF RF was shut off rather than light up the folks in the Search tower or somewhere else on the station.
A radar return (term usually used in the movies)
Blip Dip
Radar Operator
Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. Very large radar sites at Clear, AK, Thule, Greenland and RAF Fylingdales, UK. The purpose is to detect hostile missile launches against North American.
Enemy aircraft
Referred to nuclear weapons
Radome covering radar antennae
Bubble Check
Low pass by fighters over site. Operators loved them (and so did the radar maintenance pukes)
Bumping Heads
Process of running practice GCI intercepts, using two fighter aircraft taking turns as target and attacker
Direction to pilot to fly without afterburner to achieve maximum distance; also 100% military power
Backward Wave Oscillator
Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone
Call Sign
Name of radar site  or the fighter interceptor
Constant False Alarm Rate
Varying lengths of aluminum foil dropped from an aircraft to jam the radar with many confusing false targets
Contact Lost
Clicking mike button twice quickly
An affirmative response to any command or question. Usually done by the pilot on a "follow dolly" intercept or when he was too busy to talk. Sometimes used by controllers as well. Rarely because they were too busy, but because it was so cool.
Cross-linear polarization
Nickname for the AN/FSQ-7 computer
Coherent Local Oscillator
Continental Air Defense Command - Air Defense Command in the U.S
Cone of silence
A dead spot on the radar emanating from the ground up in the shape of a cone.  The reason being the proximity of the aircraft in relation to the search antenna
Officer directing the fighter intercept
Crystal Ball
The term sometime used by operators for their PPI
A raised platform overlooking the radar room where the radar scope operators are seated and the controllers overseeing the general operation. Also found here are the Control Technician and the Movement Intelligence section
Date Estimated Return (from) Overseas; the date one's remote tour was scheduled to be over. Could be used as a noun: "What's your DEROS?" A verb: "I can't wait to DEROS out of here." An adjective: "I've got the DEROS blues".
F-102 (Delta Dagger) Interceptor
Direction Finder (radio). Used to assist in finding an aircraft.
DF Shack
The radio building, many times near the radar ops building, where the DF receivers were manned
Diplex Gating Unit
Dicke Fix RX
An extremely sensitive rx perfected by Robert Dicke
Data Link. The aircraft control system in which the radar's computer would broadcast the flight commands to the aircraft's computer. This allowed the controller to give flight command information, as well as target information, without using voice commands which could therwise have been jammed. The pilot had a choice of slaving the automatic pilot to the dolly so he could concentrate on operating the radar and weapons systems, or he could follow the dolly instructions manually.
Dead Reckoning (navigation) also Detection Radar - BMEWS parlance.
Also called Ghosting. When radar energy gets trapped between cold air layers aloft and travels along this path, gets a target and returns along this same path, the range and azimuth is very erroneous.
A TR box
Duty Cycle
PW X PRF (Pulse Width X Pulse Rep freq)
Defense Visual Flight Rules
Electronic Counter Counter Measures was the radar site response to try to overcome the aircraft jammng or spoofing.
Electronic Counter Measure - An attempt by an enemy to jam a radar station
Exercise Emergency Defense Plan (those @#$%@&&^*  3 day exercises we all loved )
Electronics Warfare Officer: At first found on SAC bombers, later on some radar sites which possessed ECM capability (AN/FPS-27)
Feet Wet/Dry
Feet Wet: the aircraft under control has just begun flight over water. Feet Dry: the aircraft under control has just crossed from over the water to over land.
Term applied to the aircraft and/or airborne ECM operator gathering information on radar signatures, frequencies, strengths, etc.
Fighter Cop
RCAF term for air weapons controller
Having to do with being "short" - you had to have been there!
Flight Information Region
Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
Feel, Inspect, Tighten, Clean, Adjust, Lubricate.  If you did those five items, the equipment should be in fine shape.
Five By or Five By Five
When doing a comm check, this meant you heard a transmission loud and clear "How do you read?" "I've got you five by." The two numbers were measurements of the quality of the radio transmissions. The first number of one to five, with one being the weakest, was for Clarity. The second number, in like manner, was for Volume. Five by Five meant the radio communication had perfect clarity and perfect volume.
Follow Dolly
The command from the controller to the pilot instructing him to follow the data link commands and do the intercept silently. The only voice calls by the pilot were to verify target, call Judy, initiate reattack, and to announce when he was off target.
Part of the nomenclature identifying the radar set.  [Fixed (permanent) Radar Search]
Friendly Reply Unsynchronized In Time
Front, Stern Reattack. The intercept tactic in which the interceptor would attack the target from front, pass through, and then take bearing to target as command heading for the reattack in case the target was not destroyed on the first pass. The ideal FSR had an HCA of 180 degrees on the front.
Fast Time Constant
Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition - not exactly the term I used, though.
Gap Filler
A small radar site between two larger ones, picking up the targets the larger ones did not
GPA-34 system for weapons control. (anecdote: miserable)
A request to go to after burner for a short time. ie, "Go gate for 15 seconds"; full aircraft speed
Ground-to-air transmit and receive (radio)
Ground Control Intercept - A radar site equipped to perform radar intercepts with unknown aircraft. A GCI controller was differentiated from an Air Traffic Controller: GCI runs them together; ATC keeps them apart.
"GOD'S CHOSEN IDIOTS" The maintenance man's  name for the operator
Geographical reference.  The placement of an overlay grid of approximately 60 mile squares on the scope to pinpoint targets other than range and azimuth.  Reference was by letters and numbers.  Circa 50's.
False target usually caused due to close proximity to a second valid target
Signal processor on the FPS-35/24 radars
Ground Observer Corp - Civilian Volunteers scanning the skies for air traffic and reporting it to the ADC
Reciever noise lever - the incoming target signal had to exceed this to be detectable
Radar fully operational
Gain time Control
Guard Channel
Universally recognized radio frequency for emergency communication
E6B navigation computer (round slide rule, still used by pilots today), used by Intercept Officers and ICTs (Intercept Control Techs) to compute intercept point
Hangar Queen
An interdeptor that spent more time in maintenance than it did in the air.
Heading Crossing Angle. The angle formed by the longitudinal axis of the interceptor and the target projected forward. Example: A target heading 090 and the interceptor coming in straight at him heading 270 would have an HCA of 180 degrees. 180 degrees was the desired angle for an FSR (Front, Stern Reattack) because it had the interceptor in the best position if the target went evasive. Stern passes had an HCA of 90 degrees with bearing to target becoming command heading at six to ten miles, resulting in the interceptor rolling in stern of the target at 2 - 4 miles, the standard intercept profile for peacetime missions. Beam passes had HCA's of 110 degrees as this angle provided the largest target area for weapons launch. The HCA of every intercept was logged on the controller's mission log of every mission.
Holding Hands
Aircraft formation, flying side-by-side
A blank spot in the radar coverage – usually associated with ducting
Home Base
Denotes base the fighters took off from. During an intercept, the controller would peridically provide the current vector to "Home Base"
Hoop Erection Drill
The process of periodically raising the hoops in the inflatable radomes to ensure their operability in case of need due to a long-term power outage. Note from submitter: 'I really goofed one evening in 1953 while dating a young lady in Wisconsin ... not the woman I married, by the way ... when I told her, in front of her parents, that we'd be home early from our date because we were having an "erection drill" at the base later that evening. Her father said ... "I've heard of short arm inspections, but this is a new one to me. Do they make you practice it in formation?'
Height Range Indicator. A radar display which shows the veritcal angle, and hence the height of, a target
Instantaneous Automatic Gain Control
"Intercept Control Technician". The enlisted man that assisted the Intercept Controller (officer) with fighter intercepts. The ICT was the guy that kept the Controller out of trouble by keeping the Controller informed of all fighter aircraft capabilities and insuring aircraft remained within SOA's (both altitude and distance/area.)
Identification Technician. The enlisted person responsible for doing the initial identification of all aircraft crossing the Air Defense identification Zone. This was done by checking aircraft postion with flightplan information regarding estimated time and position of ADIZ penetration by each aircraft. If an aircraft did not match a known flightplan, he would call FAA Center to try to find out who it was. If the aircraft could not be identified by FAA then the Senior Director of the NORAD Control Center would be notified and the aircraft would be declared as Unknown. The decision was made by the Senior Director whether or not interceptors would be scrambled to intercept the unknown.
Identification Friend or Foe. An electronic means to identify an aircraft used in the 1950s, and supplemented by SIF
In the soup
Aircraft in clouds, bad weather (similar to "Popeye").
In trail
Aircraft formation, one flying in front of another
Initial Plot. The point where the target was first detected.
Interrogator Side Lobe Suppression
When the intercepting pilot has a radar lock on the target
L'il Abner
The height finding radar (because of its rocking motion)
Land line - Telephone communication between other facilities
Lead Sled
F-89 Scorpion fighter
Lemon Juice
Mid-level alert status (below "Applejack").
Cruising aircraft speed (average)
(Line Of Position) A line on the clear plastic overlay used on the PPI scope to position the Bogie and the attack aircraft. The two lines formed an angle and that angle depended on the speed of each aircraft which would lead to the intercept.
Movements & Identification
Magnetron tube - the high-power final oscillator used in pulse radar transmitters
Main Bang
The initial TX pulse
Major distributor of used aircraft parts
A bad weapons controller.
Military Affiliate Radio System. An amatuer radio-based communications system. Provided backup military communications and a lot of "calls from home".
Military Assumes Responsibility for Separation of Aircraft. During an active air defense scramble the FAA sector controller could hand the interceptors over to the Air Defense controller while while the aircraft were within US airspace but outside of an MOA (Military Operating Area). The military controller took responsibility for keeping the interceptors clear of all civilian traffic but had relative freedom of movement in order to accomplish the intercept.
Maintenance Control Center
Minimum Discernible Signal
Moisture, Fungus, Proofing. That thick coating of yellowish lacquer/varnish . It was applied over every circuit board and required removal to solder/re-solder components.
Mid back
Working three midnight shifts then three day shifts. Similar to swing-back.
"Meaconing - Intrusion - Jamming - Interference" .  The sites had to submit MIJI reports to higher HQ whenever the radars or radios pickup unknown jamming and interference, etc. 
Moving Target Indicator. Gave the radar the ability to separate moving targets from background 'clutter'.
MTI Blind Speed (Vd)
Vd=0.29(PRF) / freq in Ghz (blind speed in knots)
Electronic jamming
No Airborne Indicator Fighter Suitable Location
No Fighters Suitable Location
Notice To Airmen. Pilot information, which had to be posted with the Tactical/WX plotting board
On Station
AEW aircraft following their prescribed route of flight.  Usually over water but also over land as in Desert Storm
One TAU memory with no rewrite
Person with very short attention span (Besides being the 19th letter in the greek alphabet, the term TAU was used in the AN/FST-2B to describe the equivalent of 1 PRT or 3 PRT's. the FST-2B had 1 TAU and 3 TAU memory. One TAU was approx 2778 microseconds.)
"Ops B" was the person who kept all of the logs and managed communications with both subordinate and superior units.
Operational Readiness Inspection. Everything got inspected on this one. The troops hated it. Paint the walls and mow the grass.
ORI (alt)
That's when you stop doing what you were doing in order to simulate doing what you were doing before you stopped doing it. If the inspection determined that you could simulate doing what you were doing before you stopped doing it, you could do it.
Over The Horizon Backscatter (radar)
Power Amplifier - Klystron, triode or tetrode transmitter final output circuit.
PACE Flight
Performance Analysis (by) Continuous Evaluation (replaced PEGE Flight). A PACE aircraft would fly an established route in order to check the radar coverage of the area as well as the effectiveness of all the radio frequencies used by the control agency. Any discrpancies were reported for repair.
The 'blip' seen on a radar scope. Never mind the movies, nobody ever called them 'blips'.
A none-too-graceful aircraft landing
Precision Approach Radar (typically X-band 10 miles max from Radar +/- 10 degrees from center of centerline, +15/-5 degrees from center of glidepath)
IFF (It Squawks!)
Permanent Echo - The North Dakota Turtle Mountains were a PE for the 786th, which we used as a quick & dirty performance indicator
PEGE Flight
Performance Evaluation Ground Environment replaced by PACE Flight)
Azimuth and range to a given point
First to arrive on the scene of an aircraft accident
An unidentified (non-squawking) blip (target).
Pilot report of weather while in flight
Plot Clod
Derogatory term for a Radar Op (same as scope dope)
Radar Tech (Canadian) because we bounced our signals down "pipes"
Preventive Maintenance
PM Downtime
Scheduled downtime for scheduled maintenance(adjecant sites will be required to cover the area of responsibility)
Precision Measurement Equipment Lab
Preventive maintenance instructions
Interceptor pilot flying in the clouds
Plan Position Indicator. A radar display which shows a "plan view" of the coverage of a search radar. A PPI displays azimuth and range of a target
Pressure Chamber
A room in the radar tower that you pressurize so that you can enter into the dome
Pulse Repetition Frequency
Prohibited Area
An area where flight of aircraft is prohibited at all times
Pulse Repetition Time
Radar Beacon - A transponder used as a navigational beacon
Radar Mile
12.36 microseconds - the time for a radar pulse to travel one mile and return.
Radar Approach Control
Random Access Plan Position Indicator
A radar maintenance puke. Perhaps named for the time spent chasing thru really gnarly outdoor cable trays?
Radar Cross Section
Red Time
Radar out due to unscheduled  maintenance
Where you were guaranteed to be stationed at least once every four years as a scope dope: at a remote radar site.
Restricted Area
An area that is used for such things as bombing & strafing.  Altitudes and hours of flight through this area need to be approved and coordinated first
Radar Not Functioning Properly
Radar Out of Commission for Parts
I understand
Another type of chaff (jamming) to disrupt communications & power systems
Rotary Joint
The method used to transfer energy from fixed waveguide to moveable antenna system
Round Robin
When an aircraft takes off on a mission and returns to the same airfield as it departed from without stopping.
Receiver Side Lobe Suppression
Radio Transmission. "Mind your RT" was a major rule. You were seriously chastised for swearing or using unofficial slang on the radio.
Return To Base. When broadcast by either the controller or the pilot it meant that the aircraft was going to Return to Base.
Run Length
Azimuth width of a target in ACP's
Running Rabbits
Interference to a radar return, usually caused by another radar. The pulses from a nearby radar are typically painted on a PPI scope in a spiral pattern
Russian Kotex
Rubberized hog hair packaging material. Usually used for heavy, fragile parts, magnetrons, e.g.
S/N ratio
Signal-to-Noise ratio - an indication of the relative sensitivity of the reciever
Radar antenna
Salt and Pepper Shaker
One white radome and one black radome seen from a distance
Minimum aircraft speed
One (1) revolution of the antenna
A radar display or oscilloscope
Scope Dope
A radar operator; guys who got bleary-eyed from staring at PPIs or HRIs for hours on end and could write backwards
Aircraft on standby and ready to be airborne in a matter of minutes to investigate unknown or enemy a/c.
Senior Director. The authority at the NORAD Control Center with ultimate responsibility for the Radar Combat Crew. The decision to scramble interceptors was made by the SD.
Senior Director Tech. The NCO who gave administrative support to the SD.
Selective Identification Feature. The SAGE upgrade to IFF. Began adding codes to squawks.
Skin Paint
A raw radar return with no IFF associated
Slip Rings
The method used to transfer signals prior to perfection of the rotary joint
Radar intercept exercise lowest alert level. ' Condition Snowman', e.g.
"Standard Operations Area". The area or block of air space reserved by the military to operate intercepts within. The area was usually X number of miles either side of a line from point A to point B, and within a specified block of altitude. This obviously kept civilian aircraft from mistakenly becoming involved in a military exercise.
When the fighter pilot shoots down an aircraft
Return from an IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) transponder. Used widely today for commercial aircraft identification
Stablilized Local Oscillator (Used for mixing of first stage in the receiver)
A universal call sign used by pilots to request assistance from any GCI site that hears the transmission. Usually originated by a civilian airliner
Sensitivity Time Control
Systems Training Program
Sun (Solar) Strobe
A strobe of interference appearing on the scope at sunset or sunrise r.f. energy from the sun.
Sweep Creep
Radar Op watching trace on radar scope
Swing back
Crazy radar schedules: 3 days of swing shift followed by three days of day shift followed by three days off. Swing backs meant you got off at midnight and had to be at work at 7:30 the next morning. Similar to Mid-back.
AN/FST-1, Data processor on the gap fillers
Tally Ho
Same as "Tally Ho"
Tally Ho
When the fighter pilot sees the target either visually or on his radar
Tactictal Channel Assignment Panel
Time Division Data Link
Tactical Mission Data Board
Part of the nomenclature identifying the radar set.  [Transportable Radar Search as in TPS 1 B]
TR Box
System permitting the use of one antenna for transmitting & receiving radar signals
Trace Ace
A really sharp scope dope
The position(s) of a target, recorded on the plotting board.
The pulse generated to time the actions of the radar
Teletype machine or message
Teletype machine or message
Travelling Wave Tube
USAF's two biggest lies
The ORI leader who says, "We're here to help" and the base commander who responds, "We're glad you are here."
VFR on top
Flying visually above the clouds as opposed to flying through the clouds (IFR - Instrument Flight Rules).
Voltage Standing Wave Ratio. A transmission line tuning parameter (radar maintenance guys pronounced it as "Vis-wahr")
Vacuum Tube Volt Meter
A hollow pipe, often retangular,used to direct radar signal to and from the antenna
In SAGE, the Weapons Director. Responsible for a team of Weapons Controllers and Controllor Technicians. He would schedule the daily missions for the controllers, monitor them for safety, and be the first line of supervision to the controller during an active air defense scramble.
In SAGE, the Weapons Director Technician. An NCO who gave administrative support to the WD (example: calling airspace requests for daily missions) and was the immediate supervisor for the enlisted WDTs.
Weapons Hot/Cold
Weapons ready to fire/Not ready to fire
What State
Controller request to pilot for remaining consumables available: fuel, oxygen, weapons, etc.
Whiz Wheel
The large yellow circular slide rule used by controllers in non-computerized radar systems. The Whiz Wheel was used to calculate turning radiases, weapons lead distances, HCA's, and other necessary items of information. Rarely, if ever, used after the controller left training since an experienced controller could do it all in his or her head. The joke regarding the use of the Whiz Wheel in doing intercepts was "Measure with a micrometer, mark it with a grease pencil, cut it with an axe."
Another name for Chaff jamming
Wolf Pack
A tactic used in mid 50's where 2 or 3 interceptors would be launched as a single force against a target or targets.