What’s the Difference Between “Bandit” and “Bogey”?

If you’re new to flying, you may have heard the terms “bandit” and “bogey” used to describe aircraft but aren’t sure what the difference is. Both bandit and bogey are types of aircraft but they refer two different things. In this blog post, we will explain the difference between a bandit and a bogey so that you can be better informed next time you hear these terms used.

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Bandit aircraft is a term to describe a variety of aircraft that are used in operations outside of normal air traffic regulations. This includes non-commercial, private and military aircraft. Bogey aircraft, on the other hand, is a term used to describe an unidentified or unregistered aircraft that has penetrated a protected airspace. Further detail about these subjects will be discussed below. Read on to keep yourself informed.

what is a bogey in aviation

What is a Bandit?

A bandit is an unidentified aircraft that is not responding to air traffic control (ATC) and does not have a transponder squawking an identifying code. Bandits are usually aircraft that are flying without permission or clearance from ATC. They could be private pilots who are flying VFR (visual flight rules) and not talking to ATC, drones, or even hijacked aircraft. Because bandits do not have a transponder, they do not show up on ATC radar displays which makes them more difficult to spot. 

Types of Bandit Aircraft

Fighter Jets

One of the most common types of bandit aircraft are fighter jets. Fighter jets are highly maneuverable aircraft that are designed for air-to-air combat. They typically have a variety of onboard weapons including missiles and machine guns. Fighter jets are typically piloted by highly trained pilots who are experts in aerial combat maneuvers. 


Another type of bandit aircraft is drones. Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are controlled remotely by an operator on the ground. Drones come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be equipped with various payloads depending on their intended use. Some drones are used for intelligence-gathering missions while others may be armed with missiles and used for air-to-ground strikes. 

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Weather Balloons

In some cases, bandit aircraft can even be misidentified objects, such as weather balloons. Weather balloons are large balloons that are filled with helium or hydrogen gas and used to collect data about atmospheric conditions at high altitudes.

Due to their size and shape, weather balloons can sometimes be mistaken for menacing objects like enemy drones. As a result, they have occasionally been shot down by friendly forces who were acting in self-defense.  

What does Tally Bandit mean?

Tally bandit is a term used in aviation to describe an aircraft that has not been positively identified. The term is derived from the fact that pilots often use a system of tally lights to identify friendly aircraft. When a pilot sees an unidentified aircraft, they will often turn on their exterior lights to signal to the other pilot that they are friendly. However, if the other aircraft does not respond or respond with hostile intent, the first pilot may determine that the aircraft is a ‘tally bandit.’ 

In the early days of military aviation, aircraft were not equipped with transponders or other means of identification, so they would often go undetected on the radar. This led to situations where enemy aircraft would surprise friendly forces, leading to the nickname “tally bandit.” 

Today, all civilian aircraft are required to have working transponders that broadcast their identification via radio signal. This allows ATC to see all aircraft in their area and helps prevent collisions. When a pilot turns off their transponder without permission, they are effectively becoming a “tally bandit” and putting themselves and others at risk. 

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What is a Bogey?

A bogey is an unidentified aircraft that is squawking an identifying code on its transponder but is not responding to ATC communications. Bogeys are usually military aircraft or aircraft that are operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and should be in contact with ATC but for some reason, are not. Unlike bandits, bogeys do show up on ATC radar displays because they have a transponder. 

The term “bogey” comes from World War II, when it was used to describe unidentified or hostile aircraft. During the Cold War, the term became more commonly used to describe any unknown aircraft, regardless of whether or not it was considered hostile. Today, the term is used primarily by the U.S. military to describe any aircraft that has not been positively identified as friendly. 

What is a Hostile Aircraft?

Most aircraft are flown for commercial or private purposes, with the goal of getting passengers or cargo from one point to another safely. However, there is a small subset of pilots who use their planes to intentionally inflict harm. These pilots are operating what is known as hostile aircraft. 

A hostile aircraft can be any type of plane, helicopter, or drone that is operated with the intention of causing damage to people or property on the ground. In some cases, hostile aircraft may be hijacked and used as missiles, as was the case with the September 11th attacks in New York City. In other cases, the pilots may be acting independently out of political or religious motivations. 

Whatever the case may be, hostile aircraft is a serious threat that must be taken into account when planning for security at large public events or locations. 

Measures to Combat Hostile Aircraft

In recent years, there have been a number of measures put in place to reduce the threat posed by hostile aircraft. The most obvious measure is increased security at airports, which has made it more difficult for potential threats to get access to planes in the first place. 

In addition, military and law enforcement agencies now have procedures in place for responding to reports of hostile aircraft in domestic airspace. These procedures typically involve scrambling fighter jets to intercept and escort the suspicious plane until it can be determined whether or not it poses a threat. 

Another measure that has been put in place is something called Area Control Error, or ACE. This is a software system that is designed to detect unusual flight patterns that could indicate an impending attack. ACE is currently being tested at airports around the United States and could eventually be rolled out on a global scale. 

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Now that you know the difference between a bandit and a bogey, you can be better informed the next time you hear these terms used.

Remember, a bandit is an unidentified aircraft that is not responding to ATC and does not have a transponder while a bogey is an unidentified aircraft that does have a transponder but is also not responding to ATC communications. Knowing the difference between these two terms can help you better understand what is happening in your airspace.