Air combat maneuvering

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Air combat maneuvering (ACM), in the professional military literature, describes the close-in fight between fighter aircraft, which was called the "dogfight" in earlier wars. While fighting dogs engage in tight turns, the metaphor for the aircraft dogfight, the reality is that the greatest number of fighters shot down never saw their enemy; they were shot down in a high-pass.

Missile engagements beyond visual range is usually not encompassed by the ACM term. Modern ACM, however, very much can involve missiles optimized for close range, now usually cued with head-mounted sights.

All ACM involves maneuvers that optimize for different combinations of relative position of aircraft, their airspeed, direction of flight, and altitude. Assuming no surprise and comparable aircraft, the victor is apt to be the pilot who can assess and act fastest (i.e., the OODA loop defined by John Boyd), and best maintain three-dimensional situational awareness.

Most modern ACM tactics assume cooperating pairs of aircraft.