Air Force units are preparing for a war with Russia or China by rethinking what the “runway” really is.


Michigan Highway A-10

The A-10 will take off on the highway in Alpena, Michigan, on August 5, 2021. US Air Force / Master Sergeant Scott Thompson

  • The US military is preparing for a potential conflict for a capable enemy, Russia and China.

  • Part of that preparation is to find a way to distribute power so that they can stay active when the battle begins.

  • For the Air Force, that meant using a new airfield, and its special operator was essential to it.

  • See other articles on Insider’s business page..

In conflicts with forces close to peers such as China and Russia, the US military will be challenged by the size and range of its rivals’ weapons.

China is now considered a “pace threat” to the United States, and its personnel and weapons scale are cautious to avoid the nightmare scenario of robbing a large number of troops and weapons in a single attack. Request the distribution of various units.

As a result, the Air Force has trained to disperse its units into non-traditional and sometimes improvised airfields. Air Force special operations forces were essential to its preparation.

U.S. Air Force Forces

U.S. Air Force Pararescue Squadron Boards U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook Helicopter

On March 14, 2018, after an exercise at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, U.S. Air Force Pararescue workers boarded a U.S. Army CH-47F helicopter. US Air Force / Technology. Sgt.Gregory Brook

As an aviation component of the United States Special Operations Command, the Air Force Special Operations Command provides air transportation. Close air support; precision strikes; intelligence, surveillance, global access, and reconnaissance capabilities for special operations forces.

AFSOC also belongs to other special operations teams and oversees highly skilled battlefield commands that integrate the forces of the Air Force and the ground.

These battlefield units work in four major career areas. A combat controller who coordinates airfield operations and provides close air support. Tactical Air Traffic Control Party Air Force, a commando unit specializing in calling air strikes. Special reconnaissance operators are a state-of-the-art career area specializing in reconnaissance and information gathering.

Although they are an important part of SOCOM, Air Commandos are often overlooked because they support other special operations forces. Combat controllers and para-rescue workers often belong to the Navy Seal Platoon or the Army Special Forces Detachment. They work on their own team, but less often.

However, AFSOC is equally active in the air. It operates several rotary and fixed wing platforms, including the MC-130 Commando II transport aircraft, the AC-130 spooky gunship, the CV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft, and the MQ-9 Reaper Drone.

Wind of change

C-146A Lands on Michigan Highway

The C-146A Wolfhound is preparing to land on the highway in Alpena, Michigan, on August 5, 2021. US Air Force / Master Sergeant Scott Thompson

Air Commandos recently conducted its own exercises that reflected a changing mindset about military operations.

During the Northern Strike 21 exercise in northern Michigan in early August, Air Commandos facilitated the first landing of a modern aircraft on US public roads. The goal was to prepare the pilot and commando for instant operation in harsh conditions.

During the exercise, Air Commandos practiced sneaking into the freeway, fixing it, and setting it to function as an airfield.

The A-10 and C-146A aircraft then landed and took off from the road. In real-life scenarios, airfields with curved highways are ideally close to the front line, especially during expeditionary operations, providing conventional and special operations units with quick and accurate logistical and close air support.

“We are working on the concept of agile combat employment, which basically makes our troops more flexible and agile and challenges our enemies in a variety of environments,” he said. Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Falcone of the Air Force Said In a press release.

“It also increases US military survival because it can move to more unpredictable locations for refueling, refueling, or anything else we may need.” Falcone added.

In addition to the air traffic controller, the para-rescue squad was waiting to provide medical treatment to the highway and nearby troops, as it was during the actual operation.

Michigan Highway A-10

The A-10 landed on the highway in Alpena, Michigan, on August 5, 2021. US Air Force / Master Sergeant Scott Thompson

The US military is not the only one to train in the event of such an unforeseen situation.Taiwanese army operates aircraft Specially designed Public road As part of an exercise simulating defense against Chinese aggression.

During such an invasion, Chinese troops will already know where Taiwan’s military and private airports are and will target them accordingly. Performing aviation operations in a harsh, non-traditional environment makes it difficult for the enemy to target the aircraft.

The airfield operates a combat controller’s “bread and butter,” a former combat controller told insiders.

“People often misunderstand that our only job is to sit by science fiction. [Army Special Forces] Also [Navy] We seal the commander of the ground forces and call on the bad guys to bomb, but in reality it’s only part of our job. “Air strike

“The main aspect of our work is the operation of the airfield. Often, we identify, evaluate, mark, and operate the airfield in harsh environments. We are the first to establish the conditions for subsequent units. It’s a person. It takes years of training to reach it. A place, “added a former combat controller.

This exercise in Michigan showed that AFSOC is adapting to the new challenges of great power competition.

AFSOC Commander General James Slife acknowledged earlier this year that Air Force Special Operations Command needed to adapt and evolve to maintain relevance, “Inflection point“For commands.

ACE and FARP

Air Force F-35C-130J Guam

The F-35 awaits refueling from the C-130J on February 16, 2021 during agile combat employment training in Guam’s Northwestfield. U.S. Air Force / Senior Air Force Jonathan Valdes Montijo

For example, in the war with China, instead of relying on the F-35 group (two squadrons with about 50 aircraft) to operate from a large island, the Air Force reduced one or half squadrons. Deployed to the squadron. Kojima.

Agile Combat Employment (ACE) and Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARP) are not completely new businesses, but AFSOC is investing more in them as tensions between Russia and China increase.

The ACE aims to enable the larger operational level Air Force to function with smaller tactical level units in the event of a conflict close to the peer. In doing so, the Air Force makes it more difficult for the enemy to target its aircraft and personnel.

Manipulation of the ACE also makes it a more unpredictable and therefore more effective force.

Air Force F-22 refuels Alaska

Special Operations aviation personnel will refuel the MC-130J to the F-22 during the forward area refueling point training on January 30, 2020 in Alaska. US Air Force / Staff Sergeant Ridgeshan

The F-35 conducted such an exercise earlier this year and deployed it from a major base in Alaska to a major base in the United States in Guam. They have been redeployed to a strict airfield In a small island country in Palau for refueling.

FARP is closely related to ACE. Aircraft need to be refueled and refilled wherever they are. This is especially true if you need to deploy to a rigorous remote base with a sudden notification.

The US Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’Night Stalker’and the entire US Special Operations Community have been using FARP for decades to support operations in unfriendly territories and behind enemies. rice field. In early 2020, special tactical airmen practiced Refuel frigid fighters For the first time in Alaska.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a veteran of the Greek Army (National Service of the 575th Navy Battalion and Army Council), and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

Read the original article Business insider

Posted on