Aviation, as we all know, is a fascinating world. It has multiple categories, areas, and functions. In our previous posts, we have researched what is known as civil aviation involving measures for commercial and private aviation. This research is shifting to an entirely new cluster of general aviation, which involves a new approach, standards, operations, and objectives. Today we are going to provide some first insights on military aviation. 

military aviation

Let’s provide some military aviation background first

First off, military aviation is a broad field with a ton of different missions. From what we can identify, military aviation contains at least the following missions:

  • Cargo
  • Research
  • Multiple
  • Search and Rescue
  • Training
  • Multitask
  • Reconnaissance
  • Drone
  • Patrol
  • Observation
  • Anti-Submarine
  • Low Temp Operation
  • Tanker
  • Fighter
  • Special Elec. Equipment
  • Direction
  • Attack

Development of military aviation

In former times, each mission has a specifically designated aircraft. Nowadays, for economic and efficiency purposes, a single plane is expected to fulfill multiple roles within the same mission. Having an aircraft designated for numerous functions within a mission implicates a higher need for operations monitoring to increase awareness. 

On the other hand, these missions do not designate standard routings and Ad-hoc threat analysis compared to commercial aviation, which has planned and defined schedules per day with minimum alterations. These individual routings are also related to the ingress and egress of hostile areas at low altitude and high speed to avoid detection or interception, which we will discuss further. 

Military aviation KPIs — An overview

Military Aviation’s different missions open a massive window of opportunity to develop performance measures to have a controlled and successful operation. Only from the assignments can we already identify some potential and first general measures.

1 — Active missions
It is crucial to track the total active missions and segment them into different types. 

2 — Active Aircraft
The number of operating aircraft will help identify if multiple aircraft are involved in a single assignment or vice versa. A single machine
executes multiple missions by tracking the registration assigned per mission type.

3 — Missions Completed
Number of missions completed tracked in real-time and on an hourly basis.

4 — Ranking of missions executed
This will facilitate understanding the most frequent mission types conducted during the day vs. the less. The ranking measure can provide a clear overview of the current situation in case of an armed conflict. 

5 — Mission per region
Military aircraft may be assigned to operate in multiple areas, some with higher risks than others. Therefore, it is vital to track each aircraft’s location, as some flight in hostile territories. 

6 — Executed Missions Rate vs. Scheduled Missions 

7 — Short Notice Missions
Track missions that were not previously scheduled and took place at the last minute. The measure will help identify if there could be improvements in the planning of the multiple missions. 

8 — Aircraft availability
As some missions may initiate short notice, the organization must guarantee the aircraft availability to fulfill the requirement. 

Each of the missions is composed of some defined and standardized phases:

Military Aviation Mission

The diagram before helps us to see more clearly the picture of a military aircraft cycle. We can say the core process is not so different from the civil aviation one, except for the combat and attack clusters. With this information, we can use the traditional operational KPIs to track performance, but also new KPIs.

Performance & Operational KPIs

9 — Aircrafts active in air-to-air combat
Number of aircraft in a current air-to-air combat mission. 

10 — Aircrafts active in the air-to-ground attack
Number of aircraft in a current air-to-ground combat mission. 

11 — Recognized Threats
Number of identified threats. 

12 — Collateral Damages
Assess collateral impact in civil areas. 

13 — Target in sight
Number of targets identified and communicated to ground commander. 

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    Situational awareness, risk territories, and further military aviation KPIs

    As some, or let’s say most of the missions occur within risk territories, they can consider the following measures to provide the necessary instructions and information to the pilots to ensure their safety. Here comes in place a very relevant aspect for the operation and the military pilot. The situation awareness is composed of the following elements:

    • Geographical situation
    • The spatial and time-related- situation
    • The environmental conditions
    • The aircraft systems
    • The military pilot
    • The tactical situation 

    With the information previously mentioned, the following performance measures become relevant. 

    14 —Pilots active in hostile areas
    Number of pilots active on a danger zone mission. Pilots notify the ground commander as soon as they have entered the risk zone. Additionally, the ground commander may receive the notification with the use of GPS. 

    15 — Identification or hostile areas
    Which countries, regions, and cities are considered hostile areas.

    16 — Speed per operational aircraft in the hostile area
    Speed used per aircraft within the danger zone. 

    17 — Average speed for aircraft in the hostile area
    Average speed per assignment within the high-risk location. The minimum altitude tracking can help identify if a plane is in danger due to low altitude.

    18 — Duration per aircraft within the hostile area
    For detecting which aircraft have a high-risk exposure, it is relevant to track the individual duration within a dangerous site and understand if it overpasses the average time significantly, based on the type of mission. 

    19 — Average aircraft duration within the hostile area
    Depending on each of the missions, the aircraft will operate a shorter or longer time within the risk territory. It is essential to track the average aircraft duration within the risk area per type of mission. 

    20 — Altitude per aircraft in the hostile area
    As previously mentioned, the plane needs to fly at a lower altitude to avoid detection or interception. However, there’s a minimum altitude to operate the aircraft safely. Tracking the flight altitude can help detect if an airplane is at risk of collision.

    21 — Intercepted aircraft
    Number of intercepted aircraft by the opponents.

    The previous KPIs are just some first insights into what Military Aviation can offer. However, this is just the beginning of a new and exciting topic that we will continue to explore in the following posts. 


    Shagaev, Igor., Kirk, Brian Robinson. (2017) Active System Control, Aviation: Landscape, Classification, Risk Data. Springer Link. pp 1-44 

    Hierl, Robert., Neujahr, Harald., Sandl, Peter., (2012) Information Ergonomics. Military Aviation. Springer Link. Pp 159-195

    Seibert, Melinda K., Diedrich, Frederick J., Stewart, John E., Bink Martin L., Zeidman, Troy. (2011) U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Research Report 1943. Developing Performance Measures for Army Aviation Collective Training.


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    Camila is passionate about aviation, data analytics, and a travel addict. With more than 7 years of experience in the aviation industry, she’s constantly providing solutions to different airlines in Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia and has experience in several countries in South America. Her main focus consists on KPIs implementation, visualization, and data analysis, with the objective to increase airlines’ operational awareness through the use of real-time data.