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Barrier combat air patrol

Definition Barrier combat air patrol (BARCAP) is a military operation term referring to a specific type of combat air patrol mission. It involves deploying aircraft to patrol a designated airspace to intercept and engage any potential hostile aircraft before they can pose a threat. This protective tactic acts as a barrier to protect friendly forces […]


Barrier combat air patrol (BARCAP) is a military operation term referring to a specific type of combat air patrol mission. It involves deploying aircraft to patrol a designated airspace to intercept and engage any potential hostile aircraft before they can pose a threat. This protective tactic acts as a barrier to protect friendly forces and assets from enemy air attacks.

Key Takeaways

  1. Barrier combat air patrol (BARCAP) is a mission where fighter or interceptor aircraft patrol a pre-determined airspace to defend against potential enemy penetration, acting as a barrier against hostile forces.
  2. The primary goal of a BARCAP is to intercept and engage incoming enemy aircraft before they can approach or harm friendly assets, such as ground forces, ships, or bases.
  3. BARCAP missions require careful coordination between air and ground control systems to ensure timely information and effective responses to potential threats, allowing the defenders to maintain a positional advantage to intercept enemy aircraft.


The term Barrier Combat Air Patrol (BARCAP) holds significant importance in military operations as it refers to an airspace tactic employed to protect friendly forces, assets, or territories from potential aerial threats.

By using fighter aircraft or other defense systems to form a barrier, BARCAP maintains constant surveillance, reconnaissance, and interception capabilities to counteract enemy aircraft and deter adversarial advancements.

This proactive defensive strategy not only safeguards sensitive areas and vital targets, but also ensures airspace dominance and a more secure operational environment for friendly forces.

Overall, BARCAP plays a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness of military missions and preserving the integrity of national airspace.


Barrier Combat Air Patrol (BARCAP) is a military operation specifically employed to safeguard and maintain aerial superiority in a designated area. The primary purpose of this mission is to protect friendly aircraft or other high-value assets such as naval vessels, ground installations, and key strategic locations from airborne threats posed by enemy aircraft or incoming missiles.

By creating a “barrier” in the sky, BARCAP provides an additional line of defense against hostile forces, ensuring the security of friendly assets and enabling greater freedom of action in their operational efforts. This strategic tactic is executed by deploying a team of fighter aircraft, which are responsible for continuous patrolling within a specified aerial zone.

These aircraft often work in conjunction with early warning and control systems in order to detect any potential threats and respond swiftly with the necessary countermeasures. By maintaining this aerial presence, the barrier combat air patrol not only deters enemy incursions but also grants friendly forces ample reaction time to intercept and neutralize any hostile activities.

As a result, BARCAP plays a significant role in shaping the outcomes of air campaigns while reinforcing the overall protection and resilience of military assets during combat operations.

Examples of Barrier combat air patrol

Barrier Combat Air Patrol (BARCAP) is a military mission where aircraft are positioned to defend a specific area or to form a barrier against enemy air incursions or attacks. Here are three real-world examples where barrier combat air patrols have been or are being used:

Battle of Britain (1940): During the Second World War, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) utilized barrier combat air patrols to counter the incessant bombing raids conducted by the German Luftwaffe. RAF fighter planes, including the iconic Supermarine Spitfires and the Hawker Hurricanes, were deployed to form defensive barriers to intercept incoming enemy bombers and their fighter escorts, limiting the damage to the UK’s military and civilian infrastructure.

Vietnam War (1955-1975): During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force (USAF) utilized barrier combat air patrols to protect their aircraft carriers and other ships operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. F-4 Phantom II and F-8 Crusader fighter jets were assigned to patrol and deter potential bombing raids from North Vietnamese forces. These BARCAP missions were critical to maintaining control of the airspace around the high-value assets, providing a first line of defense against enemy aircraft.

Strait of Hormuz (Present): In recent times, the United States Navy and other allied forces operate barrier combat air patrols in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway for global shipping and energy supplies in the Persian Gulf. These patrols aim to deter any potential aggression from Iran, as well as provide early warnings against air and naval threats in the region.Overall, Barrier Combat Air Patrols have been an essential aspect of military air operations, proving invaluable in protecting high-value assets and critical locations from enemy air attacks.

FAQ: Barrier Combat Air Patrol

Q1: What is a Barrier Combat Air Patrol?

A1: A Barrier Combat Air Patrol (BarCAP) is a strategic defense tactic where fighter aircraft patrol a designated area in a barrier formation, serving as a defensive screen. It is intended to detect, intercept, and eliminate enemy aircraft or missiles before they enter the protected airspace.

Q2: What is the purpose of a Barrier Combat Air Patrol?

A2: The primary purpose of a Barrier Combat Air Patrol is to provide an additional layer of airborne protection and early warning for friendly forces, bases, or specific assets, such as naval vessels. By patrolling the designated area, BarCAPs can identify and neutralize potential threats before they jeopardize friendly assets, thus maintaining the integrity of the protected airspace.

Q3: How do BarCAPs differ from standard Combat Air Patrols (CAPs)?

A3: While both BarCAPs and standard CAPs involve patrolling and defending a designated airspace, the primary difference lies in their spatial deployment. BarCAPs establish a barrier or a defensive screen along a front or specific area, while standard CAPs are typically more focused on localized defense and may be positioned to specifically protect a single asset such as a base or a fleet.

Q4: What type of aircraft are typically used in Barrier Combat Air Patrols?

A4: Fighter aircraft, such as F-16s and F-18s or their equivalent, are usually deployed for Barrier Combat Air Patrols. These aircraft are fast, agile, and well-suited for air-to-air combat, making them ideal for the interception and expulsion of potential threats attempting to penetrate the protected airspace.

Q5: How is communication maintained during a Barrier Combat Air Patrol?

A5: Communication during a BarCAP is primarily maintained through radio communication, with pilots in constant contact with each other and ground control or airborne surveillance assets. This enables them to receive real-time updates on potential threats, coordinate their efforts, and maintain an effective defense formation. Additionally, aircraft may receive data from airborne early warning systems to enhance their situational awareness and effectively respond to threats.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C)
  • Combat Air Patrol (CAP)
  • Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD)
  • Area Defense Interceptor (ADI)
  • Close Air Support (CAS)

Sources for More Information

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