Air Support

According to NATO definitions, "Air Support" consists of all kind of air operations in favour of ground and sea forces, including close, immediate, indirect, pre-planned and tactic air support.

The air support includes the OAS (subdivided in BAI and CAS) and the TASMO.

Offensive Air Support

The Offensive Air Support concerns all planned air operation focused against those targets that can directly influence the ongoing ground battle: these targets must be located between the FLOT and the boundary set by the Ground Forces Commander in charge. BAI and CAS differ each other almost exclusively by the target's distance to the FLOT: CAS targets are close to the FLOT, while BAI targets are further (but not beyond the FSCL).

CAS and BAI need an accurate coordination for three reasons:

  • synchronization between air and land operations;
  • positive target recognition;
  • airspace control.

The main difference between CAS and BAI concerns the attack terminal phase: CAS missions require an accurate control, direct or indirect, provided by a ground or airborne FAC located nearby the target in order to correctly identify it and ensure the safety of friendly ground troops (this aspect has the highest priority); BAI missions do not require such a tight control.


OAS always needs coordination between ground and air forces, while TASMO could be carried out either in coordination with a naval action or autonomously.

According to U.S. classification, two kind of naval support operation can be identified:

  • "blue water operations": directed against naval targets located far from the coast;
  • "brown water operations" (or "littoral operations"): performed near the coast;

The closer to the coast the naval forces are, the more complex is the coordination between naval and air forces. For example, in case of amphibious operations (i.e. settling a beach head, etc) commanders of air, ground, naval and amphibious forces can be involved at the same time thus requiring tight coordination and control over the area.