First draft created on March 5. Last edited March 16. Corrections and additions appreciated.
UA = 2-letter code for Ukraine
RU = 2-letter code for Russia
UF = Ukrainian Forces, also apparently Russian Federation
RF = Russian Forces
NFZ = no fly zone
“Z” = the hand-painted “Z” is put on all the Russian hardware so that their folks know not to attack it by mistake. Similar to the yellow tape used by many Ukrainian fighters. it seems that the Z was originally a designator for what Russian military district supplied the asset. But it’s evolved into a general ID of Russian vehicles in the Ukraine, and therefore moved on to be a general symbol of the “liberation” of the Ukraine from the evils of fascism, which has been redefined by Russia as Ukrainians acting all independent like under a democratic system and telling Vlad’s puppets to fuck off like Russian warship.
ACRONYMS, TERMINOLOGY, WEAPONS
AA = Anti Aircraft. AA is a broader term that includes weapons that are not artillery (big guns) and is typically used for the larger, fixed or vehicle mounted guns. AA can be used against anything that flies. Though, of course, not every system is useful against any target. AA can be machine guns for instance, like .50 BMG which stands for Browning Machine Guns. Saying something is AA would make me immediately think “against what type of flying targets?” Given how fast anti-aircraft (AA) missiles are, a pilot cannot know how many seconds they have after the enemy radar “locks onto” their plane before they might be hit. So, the “simple” act of an AA radar locking onto them is universally regarded as a hostile act. It’s like the difference between someone else having a gun in a holster and someone pointing a gun at you.
AA vs. AAA
There is no difference in what is targeted by AA vs AAA. Just a difference on how the weapon is delivered.
AAA is usually limited to mean artillery based anti-aircraft weapons. Anti Aircraft Artillery. Typically used for the larger, fixed or vehicle mounted guns or missile systems, for example. AAA is usually firing larger explosive shells which are either fuzzed to explode at a certain height or time after firing, or have radar proximity detection and will explode when they are close to an aircraft. AAA = Anti-Aircraft Artillery, or larger crew-served guns targeting aircraft. E.g., ZSU-57-2 (Soviet self-propelled dual-mount 57mm AA gun – hence the 57-2)
Air to Air Missile
see Thunderbolt II
Acquire a plane
It basically means seeing it. Most radar is directional like a search light. In search mode, the radar scans across an area, taking many seconds to cover a full 360 degree picture. It can also be used in a directed mode, where it “locks on” to a subject and tries to keep the radar beam on that target all the time. “Acquiring” a target means that it’s been detected and they’re trying to keep the radar beam on it. “Locking on” means they’ve succeeded at keeping the radar beam pointing at the target. Once the radar has locked on, it can be used to steer a radar guided missile to the target, so you absolutely do not want the other guy to lock on to you.
Airborne Warning and Control system
Armored fighting vehicle/Infantry fighting vehicle. It’s an APC that has a “light” gun, and instead of just being a battlefield taxi like the M113 it’s meant to act like a light tank in support of the infantry on the ground.
Advanced Individual Training
APC Armored Personnel Carrier. Usually wheeled (6 or more wheels) armored vehicle for carrying infantry in a combat area. They usually have some sort of medium sized armament such as medium to heavy machine guns and grenade launchers. The Russian APCs begin with MTB-. APCs come in many variations and functions such as field medic units, radio, electronic warfare, or others.
Anti-Radiation (radar) Missile
“Artillerymen believe the world consist of two types of people; other Artillerymen and targets.”
“Artillery adds dignity, to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl”
– Frederick the Great
Artillery conquers and infantry occupies.
– J.F.C. Fuller
“Leave the Artillerymen alone, they are an obstinate lot. . .”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
I do not have to tell you who won the war. You know, the artillery did.
– Gen George S. Patton
Artillery = big guns. Newer artillery weapons includes rocket launch systems. Artillery has been dubbed the “King of Battle” for its destructive power. During the two world wars, the majority of American casualties were the result of enemy forces hurling explosive shells toward the U.S. lines.May 11, 2002. The usual rule of thumb was artillery fired non-self propelled stuff. An artillery shell gets propelled at the beginning of it’s flight and then falls to it’s target.
Most weapon system are direct fire systems. You see a target, you point the weapon at it, and shoot. Artillery is used for indirect fire. The people firing the guns (or rocket launchers) cannot see what they are shoot at. The target can often be miles away. This requires observers who can accurately locate and describe the target (forward observers), people who can take that info and determine the exact direction that the gun should be pointed, how high up the barrel of the gun should be raised, the amount of gunpowder needed to get it there. They also determine the type and number of shells to be fired to destroy the target (fire direction center). That info is then sent to the guns who fire the mission. If the first rounds are not perfectly on target. the observer gives corrections, the fire direction center recalculated, and the guns fire again. Needless to say, this has to be done very quickly and to as stunning degree of accuracy.
proper term for ships that are seized
Air to Surface Missile
Basically, any Anti-Tank weapon. There are crew mounted rockets (like the LAW), there are weapons like “recoilless rifles” that fire large rockets directly (like a tank’s main gun), rather than indirectly (e.g., a howitzer); and there are missiles and bombs that might take down a tank, one way or another. AT is a way of saying “if you know how, you might destroy, or disable, a tank with this weapon/ammo combination.”
Airborne Warning & Control System. AWACS are essentially modified commercial aircraft with a big spinning UFO looking thing on the roof (the radar). They’ll sometimes be referenced as E-3 or E-3A, which is the aircraft designation (make and model, essentially) or sometimes by their codenames since there are relatively few of them. These can be flown either by the US or by NATO. They can view a battlefield from hundreds of miles away, so they’re currently loitering around Poland down to Romania. They specialize in seeing the battlefield and communicating that information in real-time to ground units and command groups. They can mid-air refuel and are deployed to provide continuous vision of the battlefield. Based on how effective Ukraine is being, this system seems to be working VERY well.
Bayrakter drones. Bayrakter are UAVs (Unmanned Arial Vehicles) manufactured by Turkey. From all accounts I’ve read they are highly sophisticated and very effective. They carry a pair of missles and the remote operator (flying it from a truck via on-board video cameras and radar) can fire at targets with the missles. They can also be used for reconnaissance to spot Russian army movemens and to direct artillery fire.
Browning Machine Guns
What are bombers? What can shoot down bombers? SAMs. In general, fighters have a much better chance than a SAM, as true bombers (not fighter-bombers, different animal) usually fly high to avoid ground based air defense. So the bombs that have hit western cities like Lviv, would they have been dropped from bombers rather than launched from ground-based artillery units?
“command and control”. Can also be C3 for Command, control and communitcation or C3I which adds intelligence. All refer to the same basic idea. Not to be glib, but it is a little like LGBT and the other letters that can be added for more specificity and inclusion.
Cyrillic abbreviation of the Russian name for the USSR
Chinese Communist Party
Command and control
Command and control refers to the military chain of command and the ability to relay orders to troops and get information about battlefield conditions, enemy strength, and positions back to the senior military officers. The exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. A 1988 NATO definition is that command and control is the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated individual over assigned resources in the accomplishment of a common goal.Also called C2.
This is exactly what it sounds like: an offensive launched after the other side’s offensive. It can either happen while the other side’s offensive is still underway, in which case it might be an attempt to cut the enemy’s advanced troops off from resupply, or wait until the enemy’s offensive has run out of steam because they’ve exhausted their troops and/or outrun their supply train.
Exocet is a French anti-ship missile, one of the first of its kind.
Fire Direction Officer.
Fuck It and Drive On.
Fighters are aircraft that fire on other aircraft. They were developed to take out reconnaissance aircraft. No matter what the zoomies tell you, the first mission of military aircraft is reconnaissance. So, in order to counter those planes, fighters were developed. Then, other fighters to fight fighters. Then, bombers. Then, fighter-bombers, who can fulfill both roles: dropping ordnance on the enemy while being able to somewhat defend themselves from other fighters. Bombers are usually very large planes (think Boeing 707 sized and above) that drop bombs and have minimal defenses, usually machine guns mounted to inflict some damage on fighters attacking them. Interceptors are fighters with the role of going after incoming fighters, fighter-bombers, and bombers. Transports usually have no defenses at all and rely on fighters to protect them.
The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation is the principal security agency of Russia and the main successor agency to the Soviet Union’s KGB.
“Good Soldier Svejk” dumb insolence throughout. [not really sure about this one. IMO Sveik is a distillation of both a sort of uneducated peasant cunning and malicious compliance. When people in the military talk about good soldiers, this is not who they mean. A good soldier or good troop is one who endures hardship will and understands the intent of orders and will work to ensure the mission is accomplished even it requires some deviation from the leteral meaning of an order. IOW the exact opposite of Sveik]
a multiple rocket launcher. They are used in the same general situation as artillery, but they’re somewhat different. Each round is more destructive than an equivalent-sized artillery shell, because they have more explosive and less metal, but they tend to be much less accurate. Also, it’s designed so a rocket launcher truck can fire all its rockets in a very short time, resulting in a short but very intense attack. They’re great for doing massive, indiscriminate damage to a whole area too fast for the people in the area to take cover.
Military parachuting. High Altitude (exiting plane) High Opening (of parachute)
Military parachuting. High Altitude Low Opening.
needs definition. Also called “green” corridor.
IFV / AFV
Armored fighting vehicle/Infantry fighting vehicle. It’s an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) that has a “light” gun, and instead of just being a battlefield taxi like the M113 it’s meant to act like a light tank in support of the infantry on the ground.
do only what you are told. (need a better explanation) also called “malicious compliance” or “work to rule”
Javelin (US weapon)
Anti-armor missile, usable by one or two people. Link. Anti tank missile, similar to the Stinger. AT weapon. The Javelin apparently has a missile/tube that weighs 33 pounds and a CLU (command launch unit??) that weighs 15 pounds. So after firing one round, the operator/team can take the CLU off of the expended missile tube and put it on another missile tube. I’ve no idea how long this takes; but minutes not hours. Smart Missile that will adjust course in flight to hit the target. Javelins (man-portable AT). Javelins have a range of about 2.5 miles.
Joint Task Force
Military parachuting. Low Altitude Low Opening – really risky [maybe combine in a section on military parachuting and add my bit: Static Line. Jump at 1200-1500 ft (400-500m). A line hooked to the plane deploys your ‘chute (if all goes well, there are songs about the other result. Gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die).]
Light Antitank weapon (shoulder fired – use once and discard. Old tech from the 60’s). LAW is an oversized bottle rocket.
LRRP (pronounced lurp), long range reconnaissance patrol.
Long range patrol.
M113 is the tracked APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) that the US army used from the 1960s through, well, I think there are still a handful in the reserves.
do only what you are told. (need a better explanation) also called “work to rule” or “Italian strike”
Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, one- or two-man systems that can be transported on foot. E.g., Stinger. MANPADS = Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, one- or two-man systems that can be transported on foot. E.g., Stinger
Fighter-bombers for close air support, Russian military helicopter, manufactured in Russia by Mikoyan. MiGs include transport helicopters as well as gunships (heavy helicopters with wings for weapon platforms). Models can be identified as MiG-
are self propelled throughout their flight in contrast. If it’s guided, it’s a “missile” instead of a “rocket”.
Multiple Launch Rocket System. Used by Russia and the US, but not sure whether they are being used in Ukraine. Multiple Launch Rocket Systems are a form of artillery.
MoD / MOD
Ministry of Defense
“motti” (taken from a comment by Martin)
‘motti’ is a term I’m seeing more in the last 24 hours. It refers to a tactic developed when the Finns were fighting the soviets. The Finns could more easily move through the heavy forest on skis than the Soviets could in their tanks, so the Finns would rely on scouts to size up the Soviet forces, create an obstruction to block a mechanized group, then block it from the other end to keep it from retreating, and then encircle it and take it down. Ultimately it wasn’t enough, but it lets a smaller number of very mobile, underarmed troops take out a larger, more heavily armed, but slower moving group. The Finns were able to really punch above their weight.
If you’ve seen video of Ukrainian forces, it’s probably been squads of half a dozen or so guys, all with anti-armor weapons of various sorts moving through the woods and outskirts of towns, doing hit and runs on Russian armor. It’s why they might not have been too worried about that convoy, because they had a plan to deal with it.
This tactic should work even better against supply lines if the advancing forces are failing to secure territory as they go. Ukrainian forces simply pass the heavy armor, take down the supply convoy behind them, which is easier to do, and wind up not only neutralizing the Russia heavy armor because it runs out of gas or ammunition, but possibly allows Ukraine to capture the vehicle and use it themselves.
What’s notable is that there seem to be VERY few Ukrainian troops that don’t have a weapon on them that can take out a tank or at least a personnel carrier.
The other benefit to the current Ukrainian tactic is that Russia surely planned that these various offensives (north from Belarus, east from Russia, south from Crimea) would at some point meet so that they could reinforce each other. Right now, they can’t do that. Ukraine has kept them all isolated from each other. So if the north is struggling, Ukraine can pile on the pain there while just holding the other fronts at bay. This of course requires detaching the military goals from the civilian carnage and taking the civilian losses rather than shift tactics to what Russia wants Ukraine to focus on.
Meals Ready to Eat
Main Battle Tank. Tracked (not wheeled) heavily armored vehicle with turret and high caliber gun. Russian models start with a T- and a number roughly indicating the year the design started. T-72, T-80, T-90 are the most current models. Armored vehicles.
Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon.
Next Generation LAW, still fired from the shoulder. NLAW is self-guided after tracking lockon. Translation, you look at your target through the eyesight until you get a signal, then fire. Stingers do this too. NLAW also has a range advantage (a whole football field/soccer field of range now), a better warhead, and a couple of nifty tricks like “overfly attack” It doesn’t have to hit the armor facing you. Instead it goes over the vehicle and shoots down at the top. More chance of missing, not as much force, but the armor is so much thinner on top it’s a big win. NLAWS about have a range of about 0.5 mils. NLAWs are considered defense weapons.
No Fly Zone
A designated area over which aircraft may not fly without risk of interception, especially during a conflict.
Officer Basic Course.
OAC is Officer Advances Course. OBC is for LTs in the army, OAC is for CPTs. Often the abbreviation of the branch is placed in front of it (FAOBC, MIOBC, etc.) This nomenclature has been replaced of OBC has been replaced by BOLC (Basic Officer Leadership Course) BOLC A is the commissioning training (USMA, ROTC, and OCS) and BOLC B is the old OBC]
OODA stands for “Observe Orient Decide Act.” American Army officers are encouraged to have a tight OODA loop, and to keep opponents off balance by getting “inside” of their OODA loop. I think the emphasis on maintaining a tight OODA loop comes with encouraging intitiative among officers, especially at the battalion and brigade level. I wonder how the question of the OODA loop is handled by the Russian Army. I have the impression that they may have another “C”, for Consultation (with superiors). That could turn the OODA Loop into a kind of Moebius Strip.
Open Source Intelligence
Paint a plane
the targeting system is locked onto the plane’s position and course and can (likely) hit it. Paint a plane = Radar paint a plain = the radar has fully identified or acquired the airplane. The implication is that the radar’s ‘light’ has covered every surface of the plane, as if you had painted it. Also called radar paint a plane.
Panzerfaust 3 (Georgia)
Patriot Air Defense Missile System
The Patriot air defense missile system — Patriot stands for “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept of Target” — is designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles. The US has deployed two Patriot batteries to Poland amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict.
A type of AA weapon made in Poland
Not guided. (needs better explanation)
The S-300 is a Soviet designed long range anti-aircraft unit. These things are big – bigger than tanks, but not armored. They can hit targets up to 75 miles away, depending on model. These could be driven across the border, so no need to fly in, and they aren’t really a threat to targets inside Russia so unlikely to be views as an offensive Ukrainian weapon. It can also target cruise and ballistic missiles, so would provide Ukraine with additional defense against them.
Under consideration as an alternate to the MiG idea, S-300s from former Soviet aligned NATO members could possibly go to Ukraine is being explored. More or less the same deal, the US will backfill transferred units with US made equivalents.
Surface-to-Air Missile, large crew-served missiles targeting airborne targets. Examples of SAMs are: Patriot
I think this would refer to lining up a whole lot of SAM batteries/units (i.e. they are a belt) around whatever you were trying to protect from missile/aircraft attacks. SAM belt = It’s the physical space in which surface to air missiles are deployed, usually in a circle around high value targets like headquarters and critical supply depots, to protect them from air attack.
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses
Standoff weapon. A standoff weapon is one which can be fired from sufficient distance or position that the operators are safe from counterattack, usually because they can move a sufficient distance before any counterattack can be launched. Basically a weapon that reduces the risk to the operator to near zero.
These are the kind of weapons that the US dominates at. We have very expensive weapon platforms (ships, bombers, etc.) and in a conflict, if you can destroy these faster than they can be built, eventually you’re going to win. This is why we were wholesale bombing cities in WWII, to prevent weapons from being built in factories faster than we could blow up the weapons. So the US specializes in very expensive weapon platforms that fire weapons from farther away than the weapon platform can be targeted.
A related term is ‘over the horizon’ operations. This is the ability to engage in targets that you don’t have visual range of, often VERY far away. One example of this might be a forward operator – infantrymen on the ground that are marking targets from the top of a hill or maybe a UAV doing that, while artillery or tanks or helicopters on one side of the hill fire over the top and strike targets on the other side, typically using guided missiles. The targets can’t see the attackers so they can’t easily anticipate the attack, and unless the targets have similar capabilities, they struggle to respond, buying the attackers time to reposition, retreat, etc.
These play into the concept of ‘fog of war’. Fog of war describes what you can and cannot see on a battlefield. That can be big things – an attack from Belarus when you didn’t know Belarus was in this conflict, or small things like a guy with a shoulder anti-tank rocket that can easily see the tank, but the tank can’t see him because tanks have very poor visibility. In a one-on-one, the guy with the rocket will beat the tank almost every time. The tank needs other things to clear the fog of war – air support and communications so an air unit can see the guy with the rocket with their infrared camera and radio the tank letting it know the guy is there, etc. A big part of US operations is clearing the fog of war – lots of eyes looking in lots of ways and lots of communication.
Those standoff weapons are designed to operate from where the enemy can’t see to where you can see. Same with over the horizon operations.
STARStreak High Velocity Missile was designed to provide close air defence against conventional air threats such as fixed wing fighters and late unmasking helicopter targets.
Starstreak is a British short range anti-aircraft missile system. Actually it comes in a lot of varients, eg vehicle or ship mounted but they’re probably getting the LML (Lightweight Multiple Launcher) version as that’s the most portable. Often has HVM tacked on the end of the name = High Velocity Missile. Its party trick is that it launches 3 seperate missiles at once each doing about mach 4, it can’t really be jammed or decoyed and a pilot has almost no warning. The UK just gave a few thousand Starstreak to Ukraine.
According to Wikipedia, Starstreak is a British short range man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) manufactured by Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems), in Belfast. It is also known as Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile). After launch, the missile accelerates to more than Mach 4,[unreliable source?] making it the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile. It then launches three laser beam-riding submunitions, increasing the likelihood of a successful hit on the target. Starstreak has been in service with the British Army since 1997.
Thales has addressed the needs of military users around the world and introduced major improvements to provide increased range beyond 7 km, increased coverage and altitude and improved guidance precision against small targets.
The STARStreak configuration is based on the proven principles of high velocity to defeat targets with short unmasking times. The three dart payload maximises levels of lethality and accurate line of sight; laser beam riding guidance enables engagement of the smallest signature targets, which are extremely difficult to defeat and lock onto by traditional fire and forget missiles. The STARStreak missile is capable of being launched from lightweight land, sea and air platforms, from either automatic fire control systems such as the RAPIDRanger or the STARStreak Lightweight Multiple Launcher, Next Generation (LML NG). STARStreak can therefore be deployed quickly into operations and is easy to integrate into a force structure.
STARStreak High Velocity Missile was designed to provide close air defence against conventional air threats such as fixed wing fighters and late unmasking helicopter targets.
US-made man-portable SAM. Shoulder mounted anti aircraft missile. It’s a type of AA weapon. Can be used by just 1-2 people, as it weighs about 35 pounds. Effective against helicopters and slower planes, less so against faster jets. Anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile, usable by one or two people. In the olden days (1980s), they had a system to query Friend or Foe systems to make sure you weren’t shooting a friendly, but the missile was heat-seeking and would go for the exhaust. Planes drop flares to try to decoy such missiles. They are “smart” missiles, in that they will adjust their course in flight to hit the target.
Fighter-bombers for close air support, a Russian military helicopter, similar to a MiG, manufactured in Russia by Sukhoi. Includes transport helicopters as well as gunships (heavy helicopters with wings for weapon platforms). The Su-30 is the exception to that. Models can be identified as Su-
The Switchblades are essentially robotic smart bombs, equipped with cameras, guidance systems and explosives. They can be programmed to automatically strike targets miles away, and they can be steered around objectives until the time is right to strike.
A natural or artificial obstacle of sufficient width and depth and with steep sides to stop military tanks.
Tankies supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. Now applied to those who reflexively support Russia. Pro-Russian westerners, European or American.
Thunderbolt II, aka Warthog
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a US plane so it is obviously not in use in the current Ukraine-Russia war. If it were in use, A-10s would feast on Russian tank columns in a NATO air supremacy “no fly Russian bastards” zone.
what is this?
Work to rule
do only what you are told. (need a better explanation) see also malicious compliance or Italian strike
Largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
WEAPON USES / COMPARISONS
SAM vs. AAA vs. AA vs. AT
A SAM really has to hit the aircraft to do any damage, but AAA fires grenades that explode somewhere near the aircraft and the damage is done by the shrapnel (metal fragments of the grenade) hitting the aircraft at high speed. SAMs are fairly expensive $30,000 or so, individual AAA ammunition is a lot cheaper. But AAA is a larger target for the enemy to attack where a SAM can basically just be two guys on a motorbike, one to fire it, the other one ready for the getaway.
It’s a more generic term, if you mean to include multiple platforms or intend for some unit to bring whatever they have on hand to bear against advancing tanks. If you have more specific knowledge then you use more specific terms like Javelin, or NLAW (German tool?) — I think all of these anti tank weapons have slightly different characteristics, like max range, ability to follow a moving target, etc.
The teams are going to be limited by how many 33 pound reloads they can carry, in addition to all of their other gear.
This all relates back to the concept of “locking-on” to a target aircraft to launch a radar guided SAM. If that aircraft happens to equipped with the proper ECM gear, it can detect it and immediately launch a high-speed ARM that will home-in on the targeting radar signal (traditionally ground-based, but these days it could be an AEWC aircraft).
With the targeting radar disabled (or turned off) traditional radar-guided SAMs can’t be launched. SEAD is an essential part of US and NATO doctrine, ECM/ARM equipped fighters will always precede any larger air strikes. I would assume the same for Russian forces. Hence, the emphasis on supplying shoulder fired and truck mounted passive infra-red homing missiles. No targeting radar (warning can come from elsewhere, say NATO AEWC aircraft), no ARM target.