101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Gold Book

ANNEX F - SEAD Planning

1. MISSIONS. The focus of SEAD planning is protection of friendly aircraft and synchronization of fire support assets (lethal and non-lethal), facilitating the rapid destruction of enemy forces capable of interdicting attack and assault aviation assets during air assault operations. SEAD fires are planned for any operation where air assets (both rotary and fixed-wing) are employed. These operations include setting conditions for attack aviation deep attacks, setting conditions for air assault operations, and employment of CAS.


a. One of the FSE’s' primary duties for air assaults is planning, synchronization, and execution of SEAD fires for force protection during the operation.

b. There are two types of SEAD fires: lethal (TACAIR, FA, Mortars, NGF), and non-lethal (EW, smoke).

c. There are four basic techniques for SEAD: planned, on-call, immediate, and deceptive SEAD.

(1) Planned SEAD: Planned around an H-hour. Planned SEAD may incorporate electronic attack from joint and combined assets.

(2) On-call SEAD: Planned and conduct similar to planned SEAD with the exception of a floating H-Hour based on the tactical situation.

(3) Immediate SEAD: Conducted on ADA targets of opportunity. -Delivery systems and quick-fire nets are critical to support immediate SEAD operations.

(4) Deceptive SEAD: Involves firing a SEAD program in an area to deceive the enemy or cause him to reposition his air defense weapons away from when the actual operations will take place.

d. SEAD programs will normally be initiated by event, such as crossing a specific phase line or aerial check point (ACP). The event initiating the SEAD program should be a phase line or ACP that is no less than 5 minutes flight time outside the first threat ADA range fan or "bubble" that will be encountered. Timings for individual targets within the SEAD program will be done utilizing the ROTORNAV route cards produced by the appropriate aviation unit A2C2 element.

e. Prior to planning any SEAD, the FSE must find out from the aviation planners what airspeed the mission will be flown at. This is important to know, as it will affect the timings within the SEAD program.

f. The FSO needs to fully integrate with the ground maneuver staff, the attack helicopter FSE, and the assault helicopter LNO. It is critical that the FSO learn the basics of the upcoming mission as soon as possible. The FSO needs to know the following:

(1) Ingress and egress flight corridors with ACPs.

(2) Time, distance, and heading info (TDH) (or planning airspeed in knots at a minimum).

(3) Expected FLOT crossing time (F-hour) on ingress and egress.

(4) Enemy ADA locations along routes.

(5) Locations, frequencies, and call signs of friendly artillery units capable of providing SEAD fires.

(6) Non-lethal fires available (EW, EA assets off the air tasking order) - done through ALOs and DIV FSE.

g. Following is the preferred method of SEAD planning when cannon or MLRS systems will be used:


(1) Find the enemy. Plot the locations of the enemy ADA systems on a map.

(2) Determine our vulnerability to each enemy system. For each location, draw a circle around the ADA site, using the enemy weapon location as the center of the circle. The radius of the circle is the maximum engagement range for the ADA weapon system that is there. For example, an SA-8 has a maximum weapon range of 14 km. Therefore, a circle with a radius of 14 km would be drawn around each SA-8 site, with the center of the circle being the weapon system at that particular location. These circles are known as "threat rings".

The threat rings display the area of vulnerability our aircraft will have against the weapon at that location. Once our aircraft enter the circle, they have the potential of being shot down by that weapon system.

(3) Plot the flight routes for the mission.

(4) Determine the planned helicopter airspeed for the mission. From S-3 Plans or the unit A2C2 representative, determine the flight speed that will be used for the mission. This may vary from mission-to-mission, so this must be determined every time. Using the airspeed, you can calculate how long it will take the aircraft to cover a specific distance.

In the absence of guidance to the contrary, the following planning factors will be used:

UH-60 internal load – 120 knots (kn)/hr

UH-60 external load - 80 kn/hr

CH-47 internal load – 100 kn/hr

CH-47 external load – 100 kn/hr

OH-58D - 80 kn/hr

AH-64 - 100 kn/hr


NOTE: After reviewing the airspeed chart below, you will notice that a good, rule-of-thumb planning factor is that aircraft will cover three (3) km in one minute (90-100 kn/hr).


Chart for converting air speed in knots to kilometers per hour (KMPH) and kilometers per minute (KMPM). An aircraft flying, for example, 100 knots ground speed will travel 185.20 KMPH and 3.09 KMPM.



1 Knot/01.85 KMPH…....................0.03

2 Knot/03.70 KMPH………………0.06

3 Knot/05.56 KMPH………………0.09

4 Knot/07.41 KMPH………………0.12

5 Knot/09.26 KMPH………………0.15

6 Knot/11.10 KMPH………………0.19

7 Knot/12.96 KMPH………………0.22

8 Knot/14.82 KMPH………………0.25

9 Knot/16.57 KMPH………………0.28

10 Knot/18.52 KMPH……………..0.31

20 Knot/37.04 KMPH……………..0.62

30 Knot/55.56 KMPH……………..0.93

40 Knot/74.08 KMPH……………..1.24

50 Knot/92.60 KMPH……………..1.54

60 Knot/111.12 KMPH……………1.85

70 Knot/129.64 KMPH……………2.16

80 Knot/148.16 KMPH……………2.47

90 Knot/166.68 KMPH……………2.78

100 Knot/185.20 KMPH…………..3.09

110 Knot/203.72 KMPH…………..3.40

120 Knot/222.24 KMPH…………..3.70

130 Knot/240.76 KMPH…………..4.02

140 Knot/259.28 KMPH…………..4.32

150 Knot/277.80 KMPH…………..4.63

The unit A2C2 representatives will normally plan the flight routes using a computer program called ROTORNAV, which produces a route card for the mission. Using the planned airspeed for the mission, the ROTORNAV route card will display how long it will take the aircraft to go from the start of the mission to the various aerial check points (ACPs) on the route. It will also tell how long the aircraft will travel from one ACP to the next ACP. While not essential for SEAD planning, the ROTORNAV route cards are very helpful in determining SEAD timings, as well as giving the planned airspeed for the mission.

(5) Determine the enemy systems that must be suppressed (i.e. the targets for the SEAD). On the map, simulate the flight of a helicopter along the planned flight route. Note the order in which the helicopter would enter the various threat rings. The order in which the threat rings are entered is the order in which the ADA systems should be attacked. This becomes the basis for placing targets on the SEAD schedule of fire in the proper order.

(6) Determine how long the targets must be suppressed. To do this, compute how long the helicopter will be inside each threat ring. Count the number of kilometers that the flight route will pass through the threat ring. Using the planned airspeed, compute the time it will take the helicopter to traverse the flight route distance that is inside the threat ring. This will tell you how long the helicopter is vulnerable to the enemy system at that location, and thus, how long the system must be suppressed.

In the absence of the exact airspeed that the mission will be flown at, a good rule of thumb is to use an airspeed of 90 knots/hr for planning purposes. At this airspeed, the aircraft will cover approximately three (3) km in one minute. Using this airspeed, if the flight route takes the aircraft through the threat ring for six (6) km, the aircraft will be vulnerable to that weapon system for two (2) minutes. Thus, in the SEAD schedule of fires, this target must be suppressed for two (2) minutes.

(7) Due to the various ranges and the positioning of enemy weapon systems, the schedule of fires may get somewhat complicated, because you may still be suppressing one system while you are entering the threat ring of another system. Use the same procedure for both ingress and egress routes.

(8) If MLRS will be used to fire the SEAD, usually one or two rockets per minute is sufficient. Continuously suppressing the target for the entire time the aircraft are vulnerable may use up too many rockets. Consult the unit’s FDO on the number of rockets available, and the amount required to adequately suppress the target based on its size and the time of vulnerability.

(9) If possible conduct a fire support rehearsal with the supporting unit.

(10) Brief/rehearse with all participants at combined arms rehearsal.

(11) Execution subject to minimal last-minute change; synchronization is key.

(12) Execute with minimal last minute changes; synchronization is the key.


h. Figure F- I is an example SEAD schematic:





Figure F-1