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Airspace Control Plan (ACP)


The Airspace Control Plan (ACP) is a strategic document outlining the coordination and management of airspace to enable efficient and effective military operations. It establishes procedures for air traffic control, defines airspace structures, and allocates airspace for different purposes. Developed by the airspace control authority, the ACP ensures the smooth flow of military and civilian air traffic while minimizing potential conflicts and hazards.

Key Takeaways

  1. An Airspace Control Plan (ACP) is a document that outlines the coordination, integration, and regulation of airspace usage to efficiently accommodate both military and civilian aviation operations.
  2. ACP is designed to maximize the effectiveness of Combat Air Patrols, reduce the risk of friendly fire incidents, and ensure the efficient use of airspace, especially in joint or multinational military operations.
  3. It establishes procedures for Airspace Control Authorities to manage and deconflict airspace, assign altitude blocks and air corridors, and set air traffic control measures, thereby promoting effective communication and cooperation among all airspace users.


The Airspace Control Plan (ACP) is an essential aspect of military operations as it ensures the effective and safe management of airspace during combat and non-combat missions.

A well-coordinated ACP establishes the procedures and methods for coordinating, integrating, and regulating various aerial activities while minimizing the risk of conflicts and accidental engagements among friendly air assets.

By designating zones, providing flight corridors, coordinating air traffic, and implementing real-time monitoring of air assets, an ACP delivers a comprehensive overview of airspace activity and promotes seamless execution of various tasks, such as surveillance, air support, and transportation.

Overall, an ACP is crucial for maximizing operational efficiency, maintaining control of airspace, and fostering the safety and security of military personnel and assets during aerial missions.


An Airspace Control Plan (ACP) serves as a critical tool in coordinating and managing the utilization of airspace by various airspace users during military operations. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the efficient use of airspace for a wide range of activities, including air defense, air traffic control, offensive and defensive counter-air operations, and other key functions.

By designating specific sections of the airspace for these various activities, the ACP ensures their smooth execution and minimizes the risk of conflicts and miscommunications between different agencies and forces. Furthermore, it facilitates the integration of joint, combined, and coalition operations in a unified manner, enabling seamless cooperation among participating forces.

In order to achieve these objectives, the ACP is developed and implemented based on the guidance from the area air defense commander (AADC) and the airspace control authority (ACA). These entities work together with components and units from various military branches and multinational partners to establish the control measures and protocols that will govern the use of the assigned airspace. The ACP considers factors such as geographical limitations, operational requirements, and the desired tempo of operations, while balancing the need for flexibility and responsiveness.

Ultimately, the Airspace Control Plan serves to enhance the overall effectiveness of military operations by ensuring that all involved assets can operate safely, efficiently, and in a coordinated manner.

Examples of Airspace Control Plan (ACP)

The Airspace Control Plan (ACP) is a critical component of military operations that seeks to establish procedures for the efficient use and management of airspace. Its primary objective is to enhance the effectiveness of friendly air operations while mitigating the risk of mutual interference. Here are three real-world examples where an ACP was implemented:

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During the Gulf War, coalition forces led by the United States executed a meticulously planned ACP to ensure the coordinated use of airspace. The ACP provided a systematic approach to coordinating and integrating air operations over Iraq and Kuwait. Through effective airspace control, the coalition forces were able to destroy key infrastructure, command and control sites, and air defense systems, ultimately leading to a swift victory over the Iraqi forces.

Operation Allied Force (1999): In 1999, NATO forces conducted an air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to halt the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. As part of this operation, an ACP was developed to ensure the safe and organized use of airspace over the contested region. The ACP facilitated efficient and coordinated air operations, allowing NATO forces to conduct various missions, including air interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance. These missions ultimately contributed to the resolution of the conflict.

Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2014): Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States, along with its allies, launched a military campaign in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda. An ACP was essential in managing the airspace over the complex and challenging territory of Afghanistan. The ACP facilitated close air support to ground troops, reconnaissance missions, and surveillance operations, amongst other missions. This coordination and organized use of airspace were crucial in achieving various objectives in the prolonged conflict.

Airspace Control Plan (ACP) FAQ

What is an Airspace Control Plan (ACP)?

An Airspace Control Plan (ACP) is a document that outlines the methods, procedures, and coordination measures to ensure the safe and efficient use of airspace by both military and civilian air traffic. It provides guidance for the establishment and management of airspace control systems during military operations, including procedures for airspace allocation, air traffic control, and aircraft identification.

What are the primary objectives of an ACP?

The primary objectives of an ACP are to enhance combat effectiveness, minimize potential conflicts between friendly forces, reduce the risk of fratricide, facilitate efficient use of airspace, and ensure the safe and orderly flow of air traffic during military operations.

Who is responsible for developing and implementing an ACP?

The Airspace Control Authority (ACA) is responsible for developing and implementing the ACP. The ACA is typically a senior military officer designated by the Joint Force Commander (JFC) with the authority and responsibility for overall airspace control within a specified area of operations.

How is an Airspace Control Plan coordinated?

An ACP is coordinated through a collaborative process involving representatives from all relevant military and civilian organizations. This may include military branches, coalition partners, civil aviation authorities, and host nation agencies. Coordination ensures that all airspace users have a common understanding of the airspace control procedures and that conflicts between competing interests are minimized.

What are some key components of an Airspace Control Plan?

Key components of an ACP include airspace structure, airspace management processes, and procedures for air traffic control, aircraft identification, and aircraft movement. Additionally, the ACP may address communication procedures, navigational aids, and any special considerations for nonparticipating aircraft.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Air Traffic Control (ATC)
  • Airspace Management (ASM)
  • Area of Responsibility (AOR)
  • Combatant Commands (COCOMs)
  • Joint Operation Planning (JOP)

Sources for More Information