In the defensive split, the attackers have to choose between two targets. When they choose one they leave the other free as a potential threat to sandwich them. The defensive split is executed by a two-aircraft element in both horizontal and vertical planes. From the attacker's point of view it is preferable to follow the high man. The fighter that has split upwards will lose energy faster than the low man. Provided that the attackers entered the fight witha surplus of energy, the high man represents their best chance of a kill. Furthermore it will take the low man longer to get back into a fight high above him than it will for the high man to drop down. Also, the low man has more difficulty in spotting a fight above him than does the high man looking down. From the defender's point of view, the low man must be ready to pitch up into the fight as soon as it becomes clear that he is not menaced, while the high man must attempt to bring the fight down as quickly as possible to enable the low man to support him. Of course, it is possible that an attacker, faced with a defensive split, will break off and look for an easier victim, in which case the split has succeeded.
The defensive split is used by a pair to divide the ^ attention of the attackers. The split is made in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Whichever one the attackers choose to follow leaves them liable to counterattack by the other.