Land Navigation Course
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The UOTC Land Navigation Course covers basic map reading skills, the proper use of basic and precision navigation equipment, as well as navigation techniques and route navigation methods incorporating basic tactical considerations. It is designed to equip participants with the skills needed to orient themselves and their unit(s) in the ArmA mil-sim environment.
- 1 Sign Up Template
- 2 Lesson Plan
- 2.1 Introduction and General overview
- 2.2 The ArmA Map & Grid System
- 2.2.1 The ArmA Map
- 2.2.2 Map Reading - Symbols & Legend
- 2.2.3 Map Reading - Contour Lines
- 2.2.4 Grid Reference System
- 2.2.5 Direction
- 2.3 Basic Navigation Equipment
- 2.3.1 The Lensatic Compass
- 2.3.2 Azimuths & Bearings
- 2.3.3 The Maptool
- 2.4 Land Navigation Techniques
- 2.5 Introduction to Precision Navigation Equipment
- 2.6 Navigation Methods & Tactical Considerations
- 2.7 Tactical Considerations
- 2.8 Practical Exercise
- 3 References & Links
Sign Up Template
Please use the following template to post your course schedule/calendar entry:
This lesson plan is designed to be used with the latest version of the UOTC Land Nav Course mission found on the training server.
Introduction and General overview
Welcome & Introduction
Welcome players to the course and briefly introduce yourself.
Expected Course duration: 90 mins (dependent on individual skill/performance in FTX)
Change to Slide 2 using the scroll-wheel action at the notebook screen on the desk.
Scope & Purpose
Briefly outline scope and purpose of the course:
- Scope: The Land Navigation Course covers basic map reading skills, the proper use of basic and precision navigation equipment, as well as navigation techniques and route navigation methods incorporating basic tactical considerations.
- Purpose: Equip participants with the skills needed to orient themselves and their unit(s) in the ArmA mil-sim environment.
Briefly outline the structure of the course, planned (bio-)breaks.
- Course Introduction
- Introduction to the ArmA Map & Grid System
- Basic Navigation Equipment
- Land Navigation Techniques
- Introduction to Precision Navigation Equipment
- Navigation Methods & Tactical Considerations
- Land Nav Field Exercise
Switch to Slide 3.
The ArmA Map & Grid System
The ArmA Map
Outline the primary differences/simplifications of the ArmA Map and Grid System compared to those factors that need to be considered in the "real world".
The ArmA III environment uses a simplified UTM Projection (MGRS) Map & Grid System (UTM - Universal Transverse Mercator)/(MGRS - Military Grid Reference System).
This means compared to reality:
- No Magnetic/True North Difference (declination) (no conversion of Grid and Mag Azimuths necessary)
- No magnetic variation (no change in the magnetic field over time)
- Flat Earth (no great circle distance)
- Single Map Zone (one map per island / no grid zone designator) Some islands use non-MGRS/UTM style grid designations.
Map Reading - Symbols & Legend
The purpose of a map is to permit one to visualize an area of the earth's surface with pertinent features properly positioned. Since it would be impractical to portrait them at their actual scale symbols that resemble the features they represent are used.
Switch to Slide 4.
Orient participants to the map (by pressing M).
Ensure all participants know and understand the Map Symbols.
Give at least one example for each category of map symbology:
- Prominent Vertical Structures:
Radio Towers, Beacons, Windmills, water towers and chimneys
Gas stations, ports, bus stations
- Different types of roads:
Main Supply Routes (MSR)
Alternate Supply Routes (ASR)
Supply Routes (SR)(DT/BT)
- Linear Structures:
Power Lines, Railways, Runways
Churches, Mosques and Castles
- Buildings and walls
- Mountains (named)
- Different types of forest:
- Water Streams or Bodies
Map Reading - Contour Lines
Contour lines are the most common method of showing terrain relief and elevation on a standard topographic map. A contour line represents an imaginary line on the ground, above or below sea level. All points on the contour line are at the same elevation. The elevation represented by contour lines is the vertical distance above or below sea level.
ArmA only features two types of contour lines all spaced at the contour interval:
- Index Lines: Starting at zero elevation or mean sea level, every fifth contour line is a heavier index line.
- Intermediate Lines: The four contour lines falling between the index contour lines are called intermediate contour lines and are spaced at the contour interval.
Unlike on most real-life topographic maps contour lines in ArmA are (not yet) directly labelled. In order to get the elevation of a point on the map the next spot elevation must be found from where the contour lines are counted to the desired point on the map.
The contour interval is displayed on the legend at the bottom right of the map.
Mark a position on the map and walk them through determining the altitude of the position. Mark more positions and have the participants try. Ensure everybody has understood the procedure.
Slopes (the rate of rise or fall of a terrain feature) can be determined from the map by studying the contour lines—the closer the contour lines, the steeper the slope.
Mark positions on the map and have participants evaluate whether the slope is gentle or steep.
Major Terrain Shapes
The terrain relief depicted through contour lines shows us major terrain shapes:
Mark some major terrain shapes on the map.
Orient participants back to the presentation screen and switch to Slide 5.
Grid Reference System
In a city, it is quite simple to find a location; the streets are named and the buildings have numbers. The only thing needed is the address. However, finding locations in undeveloped areas or in unfamiliar parts of the world can be a problem. To cope with this problem, a uniform and precise system of referencing has been developed. The map is divided into equally sized squares (grid squares), the intersecting lines they form are numbered on both the vertical and horizontal axis. The vertical lines are commonly refereed to as Eastings, as they numbers increase eastwards, the horizontal lines are refereed to as Northings as they increase northwards. Each grid can be divided into 100 sub-grids to describe a position within a grid more precisely. The base for the grid coordinates is the 100,000 meter base-square (100km), the grid coordinates describe a square within the 100,000 meter square. It can be subdivided into :
- 10 km squares: referenced by 2-digit coordinates
- 1 km squares: referenced by 4-digits
- 100 m squares: referenced by 6-digits
- 10 m squares: referenced by 8-digits
- 1 m squares: referenced by 10-digits
Reading a Grid
Based on the military principle for reading maps (RIGHT and UP), locations on the map can be determined by grid coordinates. The number of digits represents the degree of precision to which a point has been located and measured on a map— the more digits the more precise the measurement.
- Read from the left of the map RIGHT to the north-south grid line that precedes the desired point (this first set of two digits is the RIGHT reading).
- Then by referring to the east-west grid lines numbered at either side of the map, move UP to the east-west grid line that precedes the desired point (these two digits are the UP reading).
- Combine both readings to the grid coordinate.
- (OPTIONAL MORE PRECISION) Locate the point to the nearest 100 meters using estimation. Mentally divide the grid square in tenths, estimate the distance from the grid line to the point in the same order (RIGHT and UP).
Explain how to get to the six digit grid of the green cross marked on the slide. (Approx 022 031)
Orient participants back to map and mark various towns or locations and have participants locate the 4 digit (1 km) grid.
Switch to Slide 6
Methods of Expressing Direction
Military personnel need a way of expressing direction that is accurate, is adaptable to any part of the world, and has a common unit of measure.
The most simply and common, but also the most imprecise way to express direction is by referencing the cardinal direction. The parts of the circle between the four cardinal directions (North, East, South and West) can be further divided into the four ordinal directions.(North-East, etc.). The parts of the circle between the ordinal and cardinal directions can be further divided into eight subdivisions thus splitting the circle into 16 directions. While this allows to quickly and roughly reference directions, successful land navigation requires more precision.
The most common unit of measure is the degree. It divides the circle into 360 parts referenced as degrees [°].
Another unit of measure, the angular mil (abbreviated ₥ in graphics), is used almost exclusively for military purposes, especially in cases where high precision is needed (eg. Artillery). It divides the circle into 6400 parts that are referenced as mils [₥]. Adopted by NATO in 1950 as standard unit of direction it simplifies trigonometric calculations and offers 17 times the precision of a degree.
A relationship can be established between degrees and mils. A circle equals 6400 mils divided by 360 degrees, or 17.78 mils per degree. To convert degrees to mils, multiply degrees by 17.78.
The Lensatic Compass
The lensatic compass is the most common and simplest instrument for measuring direction. Unlike real compasses the ArmA compass is not prone to external interference as in ArmA electromagnetic fields or metallic objects do not interfere with the compass needle.
- To bring up the compass press and hold [K] or double tap [K] to lock it on the screen.
- To measure a direction between you and an object align the sighting wire in the compass cover with the object. Then read the direction where the fixed index line intersects with the desired scale.
Have participants bring up the compass and explain the three scales and usage of the compass. Ensure everybody understands the functionality.
The compass allows to measure direction in three ways:
- Cardinal Directions: The four cardinal Directions are shown in the center of the compass in bold green letters, and allow to quickly reference the rough cardinal direction.
- Degrees: On the inner ring of the compass scale allows to measure degrees.
- Mils: The outer ring allows to measure the direction in angular mils.
Switch to Slide 8.
Azimuths & Bearings
Measuring direction from one to an object with the compass is commonly referred to as “shooting an azimuth” or “measure a bearing”.
An azimuth is defined as a horizontal angle measured clockwise from a north base line.
Although technically wrong the term “bearing” is often used synonymously with azimuth. Since ArmA does not differentiate between True and Magnetic North we do not have to differentiate between magnetic azimuths (measures with the compass) and grid azimuths (measured on the map).
A back azimuth is the opposite direction of an azimuth. It is comparable to doing “about face.” This is an often needed calculation that simplifies many basic land navigation techniques.
To obtain a back azimuth from an azimuth:
- Add 180 degrees if the azimuth is 180 degrees or less
- Subtract 180 degrees if the azimuth is 180 degrees or more.
The back azimuth of 180 degrees may be stated as 0 degrees or 360 degrees.
For mils, if the azimuth is less than 3200 mils, add 3200 mils; if the azimuth is more than 3200 mils, subtract 3200 mils.
Give examples of Azimuth and Back Azimuth and have participants calculate it themselves.
Switch to Slide 9.
The ACE3 Maptools are the combination of a map compass and virtual pens. They allow to plot on the map, measure distances, determine grid coordinates for locations and measure directions between points on the map.
The Map Compass
The Map Compass consists of a fixed Compass Rose and a rotatable panel. The Compass Rose allows to measure both Degrees and Mils. On the rotatable panel multiple measuring scales can be found. The ruler scale on the right edge is in kilometers. The inner scale, the Grid Finder or so called "Romer" is used to determine grid coordinates in 1km (4-digit) grid squares.
On the right top of the Map Controls the drawing color can be selected. Then lines between two points can be drawn by holding [ALT] and clicking at the start and end point.
Orient participants to the map and explain the drawing feature. Make sure everybody understands how to draw lines between two points.
Measuring Azimuth between two points
To measure the azimuth between two points the center of the compass rose is dragged onto the point from which the azimuth is to be measured. Then the compass panel is rotated by holding [Shift] and dragging with the left mouse button until the aiming line of the panel aligns with the line between the point.
Make sure everybody understands how to measure direction (the azimuth) between two points.
Measuring distance between two points
With the compass panel aligned along the line on which the distance is to be measured , the outer ruler scale can be used to measure distance.
Have participants measure distance between the two points. Make sure everybody understands how to measure distance.
The Grid Finder
The Grid Finder (the middle scale on the right upper part of the compass panel) allows to precisely find the grid coordinates for a location on the map or find a location on the map with given grid coordinates.
Find Grid Coordinates for a given location
- Place the right tip of the grid finder on the position you want to find the grid coordinates for
- The North-South (vertical) grid line to the left of the location will show the first two digits
- The intercept of the grid line with the grid finder scale will show the third digit and approximate fourth
- The East-West (horizontal) grid line to the bottom of the location will show the fifth and sixth digits
- The intercept of the grid line with the grid finder scale will show the seventh digit and approximate eighth
Thus it is possible to measure precise six-digit grids and semi-precise eighth digit grids.
Use the already marked points or mark new ones on the map. Have participants find the 6/8-digit grid coordinates for the points.
Find a location with given Grid Coordinates
The process is reversed. The grid finder is aligned with the grid lines until the intersects represent the grid coordinates. The aiming corner of the grid finder is at the desired location.
Have participants locate a 8 digit grid coordinate on the map.
The key to success in land navigation is to know your location at all times. With this basic knowledge, you can decide which direction and how far to travel. The Resection is a Navigation Technique that allows you to precisely locate your own position. It allows to locate one’s position on a map by determining the azimuth to at least two well-defined locations (reference points) that can be pinpointed on the map. For greater accuracy, the desired method of resection would be to use three or more well-defined locations.
- Identify a visible (ideally point/spot type of) terrain feature/reference point on the map.
- Measure the azimuth to the known positions from your location using the compass.
- Convert the azimuth to a back azimuth.
- Draw the back azimuth from the reference point.
- Repeat with at least one other terrain feature.
- The intersection of the lines is your location. Determine the grid coordinates to the desired accuracy.
Ensure participants have understood the steps involved. Then move all participants to the Flag Pole and teleport with all participants to “Site 1”.
When everybody has teleported (Use instructor panel to check). Ask participants to locate themselves using the Resection Navigation Method. Allow everybody enough time before you give the solution.
Teleport with everybody to “Next Site” and repeat the process, then teleport to Camp. Reorient participants back to screen and switch to slide 12.
The Modified resection is a modified version of the Resection, it is the method of locating one’s position on the map when the person is located on a linear feature on the ground, such as a road, canal, or stream. It is even quicker and simpler than the Resection as it only needs a minimum of one reference point.
- Identify a visible (ideally point/spot type of) terrain feature/reference point on the map.
- Measure the azimuth to the known positions from your location using the compass.
- Convert the azimuth to a back azimuth.
- Draw the back azimuth from the reference point until it intersects the linear terrain feature you are on.
- (Repeat with other terrain features if necessary/desired)
- The intersection of the line with the linear terrain feature is your location. Determine the grid coordinates to the desired accuracy.
Ensure participants have understood the simplification and switch to slide 13.
Intersection is the location of an unknown point by successively occupying at least two (preferably three) known positions on the ground and then map sighting on the unknown location. This can also be done by having another unit/person at another known location communicating the direction. It is used to locate distant or inaccessible points or objects such as enemy targets and danger areas or locate the site of a crashed aircraft or fire. It is comparatively rarely used in ArmA.
- Measure the azimuth from the first known position to the object
- Draw the first azimuth from the known position.
- Measure (or have another unit measure) the azimuth from the second known position to the object
- Draw the second azimuth from the known position.
- The intersection of the lines is the location of the object. Determine the grid coordinates to the desired accuracy.
Ensure participants have understood the general concept and switch to slide 14.
Polar Coordinates / Polar Plot
Polar coordinates describe points by referencing the distance and direction from a point. The method of locating or plotting an unknown position from a known point by giving a direction and a distance along that direction line is called polar plot. This is often the only method to remotely locate a target/position, and is one of the primary methods to locate targets for artillery.
The following elements must be present when using polar plot:
- Present known location on the map.
- Azimuth .
- Distance (in meters).
- Measure the azimuth to the object.
- Estimate/Determine the range to the object.
- Draw the measured azimuth from your position.
- Measure the determined range on the azimuth.
- The range on the azimuth is the location of the object. Determine the grid coordinates to the desired accuracy.
Ensure participants have understood the general concept and switch to slide 15.
Range determination is the process of finding out the distance from an observer to a target or any distant object. Range determination is not only an important skill needed when trying to locate an object via polar coordinates for navigational purposes, but is vital for successful marksmanship, artillery spotting and tank gunnery. There are various ways and methods to determine range:
- Flash to Bang (rarely used in ArmA)
Determining the range by counting the seconds between a flash and bang (approx 330 m/s)
- 100 Meter Unit Estimation (Football/Soccer-field Method)
Mentally dividing the range between the observer and the object into football fields and multiplying their number by 100 meters
- Measuring on the Map (using Maptools)
If both the observer location and the object are located on the map the range can be measured with the maptools.
- Laser Range Finders (Yard Age/Vector/SOFLAM/FCSs) (Will be covered in a few minutes)
Modern Laser Range Finders provide the by far quickest and most accurate way available to determine range.
- Binoculars/Scopes with Mil-Relation Formular
The binoculars and mil relation formular are used in the assisted method of range determination. To use this method, the width or height of an object at the range must be known. Ideal objects can be objects such as vehicles (cars ~ 2 m width) or persons (~1.80 m height in ArmA).
- Measure width and height of object using the Binocular Mil-Reticle
- Multiply known/estimated width of the object by 1000 and divide it by the measures mils
- The result is the range in meters
Ensure everybody has understood the Mil-Relation Formula. Have participants write it down.
Move all participants to the Flag Pole and teleport to "Site 2". Ensure all participants teleported successfully.
Use the Zeus/Instructor panel to spawn a target of choice and known dimensions Person, UAZ, Tank etc.
Have participants determine the range using the mil relation formular, then verify with the Laser Range Finder.
Once the Mil-Relation reticle method is understood have participants pick up Vector 21 Range finders from the crate.
Laser Range Finders (Vector 21)
Explain the basic functionality of the Vector 21. The vector has an Azimuth (Tab) and Range Key (R).
- Slope Distance: Press and hold the Range Key [R] until the red pointing circle appears. Sight the circle on the object and release the key.
- Azimuth: Press and hold the Azimuth Key [Tab] until the azimuth is displayed.
- Slope distance and Azimuth (Combined Measurement): Press and hold both Range [R] and Azimuth Key [Tab] until the red pointing circle appears. Sight the circle on the object and release both keys.
Explain how to change the unit settings, by pressing the Azimuth Key [Tab] five times in rapid succession, then change units settings using the Range Key [R]. Store settings by pressing the Azimuth Key [Tab] five times again.
Explain the capabilities of the MicroDAGR and DAGR and use the MicroDAGR as example. Show how to connect the MicroDAGR and the Vector 21 and how to locate an objects gird coordinates using a combined measurement.