Tactical Air Navigation

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About Tactical Air Navigation

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A tactical air navigation system, commonly referred to by the acronym TACAN, is a navigation system used by military aircraft. It provides the user with bearing and distance (slant-range) to a ground or ship-borne station. It is a more accurate version of the VOR/DME system that provides bearing and range information for civil aviation. The DME portion of the TACAN system is available for civil use; at VORTAC facilities where a VOR is combined with a TACAN, civil aircraft can receive VOR/DME readings. Aircraft equipped with TACAN avionics can use this system for enroute navigation as well as non-precision approaches to landing fields. The space shuttle is one such vehicle that was designed to use TACAN navigation (although it has since been upgraded with GPS as a replacement). The typical TACAN onboard user panel has control switches for setting the channel (corresponding to the desired surface station's assigned frequency), the operation mode for either Transmit/Receive (T/R, to get both bearing and range) or Receive Only (REC, to get bearing but not range). Capability was later upgraded to include an Air-to-Air mode (A/A) where two airborne users can get relative slant-range

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