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VMF Training Bootcamp,  The Variable Message Format (VMF)

VMF Training Bootcamp,  The Variable Message Format (VMF) is a 4-day training bootcamp covering The VMF messaging standard developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)  to allow messages of variable lengths to be sent over Tactical Data Links (TDL).

For detailed course agenda, CLICK HERE.

Variable Message Format, a military message format as defined by MIL-STD-6017. The Variable Message Format (VMF) standard was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to allow messages of variable lengths to be sent over independent TDLs. A VMF message is bit-oriented and attempts to minimize the use of TDLs by sending only the required and necessary data. VMF objective was to be flexible enough to be able to communicate with any legacy system and new host requiring that additional header fields can be added without modifying the underlying specification.

The core of the VMF protocol is the PDU (Protocol Data Unit) which contains the header and the user data, similar to TCP/IP packet. PDUs are processed at the application layer and is composed of the application header and the user data.

VMF is the primary TDL system used by US Army and US Marine Corps maneuver  and fire support units. Naval surface fire elements use VMF, as well as rotary-wing  attack platforms, providing a common capability for most fire support operations.

VMF is also implemented by some Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft and ground  support kits including: A-10, AC-130H/U, B-52, BAO Kit, F/A-18, F-35, PFED,  Tactical Air Control Party-Close Air Support System (TACP-CASS), and TLDHS.

VMF has been employed  extensively for Close Air Support (CAS) missions but is not limited to any particular mission. VMF facilitates integration with Advance Field Artillery Tactical Data  System (AFATDS), which streamlines the request coordination process.

VMF is  compatible with multiple communications mediums and systems including:

  • line-of-sight (LOS)
  • beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS)

VMF is used for:

  •  Immediate CAS requests via the Tactical Air Direction (TAD) net by Froward Air  Controller (FAC),
  • FAC-Airborne (FAC-A),
  • Joint Terminal Attach Controller (JTAC),
  • Tactical Air Control Party (TACP),
  • Air Support Operations Center (ASOC),
  • Direct  Air Support Center (DASC), Support Arms Coordination Center (SACC) across  the services.
  • US Army’s VMF messages are used across all segments of the Army’s  Tactical Internet and on various point-to-point circuits.
  • US Marine Corps’s VMF messages for Amphibious,  Fire Support, CAS, land warfare situational awareness, command and  control operations tactical data networks similar to the Army’s Tactical  Internet, and across point-to-point circuits.
  • US  Navy’s VMF messages across point-to-point circuits in  support of Operational Maneuvers From the Sea (OMFTS) which includes  Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and CAS missions.
  • US Air Force’sTACP also uses VMF messages to exchange  information with ground and air units.


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