Greetings Mission Planners,
I've posted a new version of Excel2FV Mark II on the download
- A problem in exporting data to Excel Spreadsheets has been repaired.
- Converting C2PC .mgc files created by CAPES (Combined Arms Planning & Execution Monitoring System)
- Export of PFPS data (Threats, Locals and Manual CHUM) to a comma delimited
text (.csv) file has been added.
TaskView 3.3.1 has been released! If you're on distribution for Air
Force PFPS you should receive a CD in the mail. TaskView 3.3.1 fixes
errors found since version 3.3 was rapidly fielded for Operation Iraqi
Freedom. It also adds some nifty new features. If you have an
account at the Mission
Planning System Support Facility (MPSSF) you can download 3.3.1 from the
Downloads section of the website after logging on. More details are
The MPSSF also released Breaking
News about inaccuracies found in DTED:
Elevation inaccuracies have been identified in Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED). Mission Planners Should Exercise Caution When Evaluating Elevation Data Based Solely On DTED. The following are paraphrased excerpts from an AFSOC FCIF concerning the use of DTED in determining Terrain Clearance Altitude (TCA) using FalconView Version 3.3.
NOTE: The referenced DTED inaccuracies may exist anywhere, will occur in any mission planning software reading DTED, and are
to FalconView 3.3.
"...DUE TO A RECENTLY DISCOVERED ERROR IN PFPS (FALCONVIEW) VERSION 3.3 SERVICE PACK 1 AND NOTED DTED INACCURACIES, AIRCREWS WILL NOT USE FALCONVIEW'S CALCULATION OF TERRAIN CLEARANCE ALTITUDES (TCA) ALONE TO DETERMINE THE HIGHEST ELEVATION WITHIN A ROUTE CORRIDOR. THE TCA DOES NOT GUARANTEE CLEARANCE FROM EITHER TERRAIN OR OBSTACLES.
-TO CLARIFY, THE TCA CALCULATION IS DESIGNED TO IDENTIFY THE "HIGHEST" DTED ELEVATION WITHIN THE CONFINES OF A LEG CORRIDOR AND THEN ADD A USER SUPPLIED BUFFER TO PRODUCE AN ALTITUDE "CLEAR" OF TERRAIN. IT HAS BEEN DISCOVERED THAT THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ERROR IN THIS CALCULATION.
ADDITIONALLY, DTED ELEVATIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS ACCURATE, WHICH COMPOUNDS THIS ERROR. RECENTLY AN AIRCREW NOTED THAT THE DTED ELEVATION FOR "SHIP ROCK" WAS 1200' LOWER THAN CHARTED ELEVATION.
- THIS FALCONVIEW PROBLEM WILL BE CORRECTED IN THE NEXT RELEASE OF PFPS; HOWEVER, THE TCA WILL STILL NOT GUARANTEE CLEARANCE FROM EITHER TERRAIN OR OBSTACLES, DUE TO INACCURACIES IN DTED.
AIRCREWS MUST STILL ENSURE THAT THEY REVIEW ALL AVAILABLE ELEVATION SOURCES DURING MISSION PLANNING."
Mission Planning Tip: PFPS In Combat
The following is taken from the April
edition of the AF's Flying
Safety Magazine. Thanks to Mike Walling for pointing it out to me:
Portable Flight Planning System In Combat
Sitting in eighth grade DOS class on an Apple IIe computer in the early 1980s, I would never have thought I’d be relying on a computer to save my life one day. The rapid growth of computer technology, however, means computers pervade every aspect of life. In the flying world, the portable flight planning system (PFPS) is the current, vital, state-of-the-art tool for mission planners.
Although not an entirely new idea, the concept of flying with a laptop and integrated GPS is not one that has been wholeheartedly adopted throughout the Air Force. On many recent combat missions, however, the PFPS laptop has become a vital tool for rapid in-flight re-planning and situational awareness (SA).
On my first flight in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, the PFPS did more than ease our planning; it wound up saving our lives. We were tasked to infiltrate SOF troops into northern Iraq on the longest special operations infil since World War II.
Because of the international climate and a need to launch the mission on a particular day, our crew was tasked to deadhead to a forward operating base and complete mission planning for the demanding infil sortie in a couple of hours—a task that normally takes days. Fourteen hours after landing, we married up with our plane and launched on one of the most demanding missions of our careers. As has become the standard in my squadron since initial operations in OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, we took off with the PFPS and GPS tied in as a moving map SA builder. With just under an hour of flying before we would enter enemy airspace, I finished up last minute “polishing” to the flight plan on the computer…entering actual winds and changing speeds accordingly. Timing was critical that night, due to multiple-timed landings at the destination landing zone.
Two hours into the flight, threat calls began coming in from aircraft further down track. We plotted them on our computer using the bullseye tool and derived accurate positions to enter into our onboard systems. As everyone knows, the original route you plan rarely becomes the route you fly when the fog of war creeps in. The EWO and I began assessing the fluid environment ahead of the plane with the newly plotted threats. We scaled in and out of charts down to imagery level, that our SOFPARS rep had loaded, to find those areas where we expected less danger. As we began a deviation around one of the plotted threats, tracer fire in the distance pushed us further off course than planned.
Suddenly I heard what sounded like a cue ball being thrown down on a pool table as enemy fire crashed into the pilot’s swing window. This was followed by directed tracer fire lighting the black sky. We jinked and maneuvered the aircraft during a four-minute engagement. The flight engineer soon recognized that our number two engine had been hit as we had lost over half of our engine oil in less than two minutes. Per the Dash-1, we began the engine shutdown sequence just as we flew into a second hornet’s nest. AAA was everywhere! We again began jinking, this time on three engines, and maneuvering the plane through all dimensions. The terrain-following (TF) system failed, leaving us in the moonless night with no radar at 250 feet and under attack. Anti-aircraft fire began to rip through the fuselage of the airplane and the smell of burning powder was evident in the cargo compartment. The engagement lasted almost seven minutes, and I remember thinking to myself that our training scenarios never last this long. I kept up my SA with the ground map radar and PFPS while the pilot continued to jink. As we took more hits to the plane, it was clear we wouldn’t be making it to our infil site—we had lost an engine and the aircraft structure was questionable; we had over-G’d, over-torqued, and over-temped all of the engines.
The utility of the laptop now became critical. I did a quick overview of the route on the laptop, noted our current position via the GPS track, and informed the pilot I could have him in a friendly country in 30 miles. He elected to take me up on the offer of a way out of the gunfire. I plotted a course on our moving map PFPS display from the latest track to the border using the range and bearing tool. Accuracy was critical as we skirted along another non-friendly border. We crossed the friendly border and entered the clouds, climbing into the mountains without a TF radar. With our compressed planning time, entering another country had not been part of our contingency planning. We had no VFR charts other than what was loaded on the PFPS laptop. I pulled MSAs for the flight path as we nursed the plane to altitude without radar control.
After throwing emergency in the transponders and pulling up Guard, we got an AWACS up who cleared us for an emergency landing. Again, I used the laptop to quickly look up unfamiliar fixes, build our flight plan for the route and pull a Self-Contained Approach off the hard drive for backup of the landing. After landing and egressing the plane, which was now spewing 30K of JP-8 through three holes in the wings onto the ramp, we went to debrief and used the GPS trail to complete a MISREP on the AAA sites.
As we sat down for our crew debrief, the crew and I discussed how fortunate we had been to have had the PFPS. We got ourselves into a situation demanding immediate and absolutely accurate data that only a computer could have provided. Had we not had the laptop, there is a good chance we could have flown into a third-party country, crashed into a mountain in the weather, or lost situational awareness while jinking and flown deeper into the threat environment. Our PFPS laptop became our most important safety tool that night, and I haven’t flown a combat mission without it since.