Aircraft Links: List of links to specific aircraft
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Glossary — A

A-W AgustaWestland

AAM Air-to-air missile.

AAAW Advanced Anti-Armour Weapon (became Brimstone).

AAR Air-to-air refuelling.

AB Air Base.

AB Aktiebolag (Swedish company constitution).

ABCCC Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Centre.

absolute ceiling Greatest altitude attainable by aircraft in level flight.

AC Alternating current.

ACC Air Combat Command (US).

ACLS Automatic carrier landing system.

ACM Advanced Cruise Missile (US designation means AGM-129).

ACMI Air combat manoeuvring instrumentation.

ACN Aircraft classification number.

ADC Air data computer.

ADV Air Defence Variant (of Tornado), RAF designations = Tornado F2/2A or F/3.

ADF Medium-frequency Automatic Direction-Finding (equipment).

ADI Attitude/director indicator.

aerofoil Any solid body so shaped that, as a fluid medium (air or hot gas) moves past it, it experiences a useful force perpendicular to the direction of relative motion; thus, a wing generates lift, while a turbine blade generates torque on a shaft.

aeroplane (North America, airplane) Heavier-than-air aircraft with propulsion and a wing that does not rotate in order to generate lift.

AEW Airborne early warning.

AEW&C Airborne Early Warning and Control.

AFB Air Force Base (USAF).

AFCS Automatic flight control system.

AFRC Air Force Reserve Command (US).

AFRES Air Force REServe.

AFRP Aramid fibre-reinforced plastics.

AFSOC Air Force Special Operations Command.

afterburning Temporarily augmenting the thrust of a turbofan or turbojet by burning additional fuel in the jetpipe.

AGM Air-to-ground missile.

Ah Ampere-hours.

AH Army Helicopter (UK designator).

AHIP Army Helicopter Improvement Programme (for US Army OH-58 Kiowa).

AHRS Attitude/heading reference system.

airbrake Passive device extended from aircraft to increase drag. The most common form is hinged flap(s) or plate(s), mounted in locations where operation causes no significant deterioration in stability and control at any attainable airspeed. Airbrakes are also mounted on the spine of an aircraft as on the F-15 and Su-27.

AIDC Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (Taiwan).

AIM Air Interception Missile (used in US designations, such as AIM-9).

aircraft All manmade vehicles for off-surface navigation within the atmosphere, including helicopters and balloons. Air-cushion vehicles and wing-in-ground-effect vehicles are excluded from the classification.

airship Power-driven lighter-than-air aircraft. Traditional classes are: blimp, a small non-rigid; non-rigid, in which envelope is essentially devoid of rigid members and maintains shape by inflation pressure; semi-rigid, non-rigid with strong axial keel acting as beam to support load: and rigid, in which envelope is itself stiff in local bending or supported within or around rigid framework.

airstair Retractable stairway built into aircraft. Often incorporated into the door.

aka also known as.

ALARM Air-launched anti-radiation missile.

ALAT Aviation Legere de l’Armee de Terre. (French army aviation).

ALCM Air-launched cruise missile.

ALH Advanced Light Helicopter (HAL Druhvs).

Allithium Aluminium-lithium alloy.

ALLTV All-light level television.

AM Amplitude modulation.

AMC Air Mobility Command (US).

AMRAAM Advanced Medium-Range AAM.

An Antonov (Russian design bureau).

ANG Air National Guard (US).

anhedral Downward slope of wing or tailplane from root to tip.

anti-balance tab Hinged surface on trailing-edge of stabilator and operating in same direction, so as to dampen its movement.

ANVIS Aviator's night vision system.

AO Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo (Co Ltd; Russian company constitution).

AoA Angle of attack (see ‘attack’ below).

AOOT Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo Oktrytogo Tipa (Russian company constitution).

APACHE Armement Propulsee A Charges Ejectables – French weapons dispenser weapon from which StormShadow/SCALP EG weapons are derived.

APN Aviation of the People’s Navy (China’s naval air arm).

approach noise Measured 1 nautical mile from downwind end of runway with aircraft passing overhead at 113 m (370 ft).

APR Auxiliary power reserve.

APU Auxiliary power unit (part of aircraft).

ARINC Aeronautical Radio Inc, US company whose electronic box sizes (racking sizes) are the international standard.

ARM Anti-radiation missile.

ArNG Army National Guard (US).

AS&C Airborne Surveillance & Control (UK designator).

ASARS Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System.

ASE (1) Automatic stabilisation equipment; (2) Aircraft survivability equipment.

AshM Anti-ship Missile.

ASI Airspeed indicator.

ASM Air-to-surface missile.

ASMP Air-Sol-Moyenne Portee – French nuclear stand-off missile.

aspect ratio Measure of wing (or other aerofoil) slenderness seen in plan view, usually defined as the square of the span divided by gross area.

AST Air Staff Target (UK).


ASUW Anti-surface unit warfare.

ASRAAM Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile.

ASV/AsuV Anti-surface vessel.

ASVW Anti-Surface Vessel Warfare.

ASW Anti-submarine warfare.

ATC Air traffic control.

ATGM Anti-Tank Guided Missile.

ATGW Anti-Tank Guided Weapon

ATM Anti-Tank Missile.

ATR Airline Transport Radio ARINC 404 black box racking standards.

attack, angle of (alpha) Angle at which airstream meets aerofoil (angle between mean chord and free-stream direction). Not to be confused with angle of incidence (which see).

augmented Boosted by afterburning (turbofan), as in augmented turbofan.

autogyro Rotary-wing aircraft propelled by a propeller (or other thrusting device) and lifted by a freely running autorotating rotor.

AUW All-up weight (term meaning total weight of aircraft under defined conditions, or at a specific time during flight). Not to be confused with MTOW (which see).

avionics Aviation electronics.

AVLF Airborne Very Low Frequency – communications system used to communicate with submersed USN submarines.

AWACS Airborne warning and control system (aircraft category). The USAF programme which spawned the E-3 Sentry and often incorrectly used as the aircraft name itself.

axisymmetric intakes Twin, circular engine air intakes mounted astride the spinner of New Piper light aircraft.

axisymmetric nozzle Circular jet-engine nozzle capable of unrestricted vectoring movement (within a cone specified by mechanical limitation) to enhance aircraft manoeuvrability.