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Factors That Affect Detection, Recognition, and Identification

This chapter covers early recognition and identification, aircraft confusion, physical factors, and search techniques. It also covers markings and camouflage, the use of binoculars, and other recognition considerations.

Every attempt made at visual aircraft recognition involves two events. First, an aircraft must be detected. Second, the aircraft must be inspected to distinguish the characteristics or shape that makes it recognizable as a particular aircraft.

Since detection, identification, and recognition are all visual processes, an aircraft must be detected, and then recognized at the farthest range possible, to make a timely engagement decision and or to report the aircraft. The task requires good, corrected if necessary, eyesight.


The farther out an aircraft can be detected, recognized, and identified, the more time a gunner has to make an engagement decision. If the gunner is not going to engage the aircraft, then early recognition and identification will allow time to seek cover and or report the aircraft. The importance of early identification is demonstrated in the following illustration.

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