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TACAN-Tactical Air Navigation System basics

TACAN avionic system is a short range navigational aids and it stands for Tactical Air Navigation. It provides Aircraft bearing and distance with respect to a Ground station for MIL purposes. The bearing part of this system is similar to VOR, but quite unique for the nature of MIL operation. As for the distance measurement capability, it is in fact obtained through the integrated DME system within the TACAN Ground station.

TACAN,Tactical Air Navigation System

On the ground, Rx and Tx TACAN or VORTAC systems are used. It operates in the UHF band from 960 to 1215 MHz. The number of channels supported are 252.

In the aircraft TACAN system is used for Rx and Tx. It works at UHF. Range of operation is about 200 miles.

Figure depicts TACAN Ground station system.


•  This system rejects bounced signals.
•  It has low power consumption.
•  It is reststant to the shock, vibration and EMI.
•  It is flawless in the areas having severest sites such as snow, humidity, rain, fungus, sand and dust regions.
•  It has no moving parts and hence antennas do not require any maintenance.
•  It combines both bearing and distance capabilities together.
•  In the case of bearing Tx becoming defective, the facility will remain active as a DME Ground station.


•  Bearing error is about +/- 3.5 Degreee.
•  The system has distance slant error
•  TACAN system is limited to LOS due to UHF band of operation.
•  It is a stable military navigational aid and will remain in operation for long time. inspite of GPS more accurate than TACAN.

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