- Faced with a Chinese army that can reach farther, the US Air Force is looking for ways to spread its forces across the region.
- To do this, the service is implementing a concept known as Agile Combat Employment and has a rigorous test of ACE capabilities planned for February.
- For more stories, visit the Business Insider homepage.
Like china growing in military size and reachThe US Air Force is expanding in the Pacific. In an upcoming exercise, the service will test the ability of jets to fly from remote airports in the area.
The Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, the Air Force headquarters in the Western Pacific, is “the range of many missile threats” Brig. General Jeremy Sloane, commander of the 36th Wing at Anderson, said at an Air Force Corps event this week.
Ballistic and cruise missiles “put our main operating bases at risk and present new challenges for the US at bases like Anderson,” Sloane added.
Gave new urgency to expedition operationsand the Air Force has placed more emphasis on Agile Combat Employment in recent years.
ACE, as it is known, matches bases or centers such as Anderson with distant airports called spokes. Specially trained aviators, pre-positioned equipment, and the ability to airlift facilitate operations between them.
“The ACE is increasing the number of bases where the air force can create combat sorties, and this really gives us multiple options, expanding and complicating our access to power projection – this is important – it complicates the enemy’s targeting problem,” Sloane said.
Sloane said most exercises have an ACE component, but “one of the toughest ACE operations will be here in February” during a drill called Cope North.
“The F-35s and F-16s will carry out conversation operations through landing, refueling, re-planning and launching into Anderson’s Northwest Field,” Sloane added.
“Northwest Field is a really harsh airfield carved out of the forest on the northwest side of our base,” Sloane said. “With minimal signs, minimal lighting, and no permanent aircraft or airport control. So far only C-130s and [helicopter operations] it was held at the airport. “
36. Emergency Response Group, a “first in“The power to secure and establish airports” will practice opening the airspace, controlling the airspace, clearing the landing. [operations]and supports the combat turns of F-35s and F-16s, “Sloane said, adding that his command has set up a temporary arrest system to slow down landing aircraft and are” fast production “runway distance markers.
Sloane selected “highly skilled aviators” who were trained to do the multiple jobs required for ACE, such as maintenance, rearmament and refueling.
“The proper placement of the theater is characterized by the only need for a runway, ramp, fuel supply, ammunition, food, and some highly skilled aviators,” Sloane said. resounding Gen Kenneth Wilsbach, Chief of the US Pacific Air Force.
Sloane said the 36th Wing was a pioneering work on the curriculum to train these aviators, describing them as “a large part of how we get all aviators into battle”.
‘Buying too much risk’
Cope North is an annual exercise conducted with Japanese and Australian forces. F-35s will arrive from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska and F-16s from Misawa Air Base in Japan.
Sloane complimented the crew from Misawa and Eielson, who said “they bought too much risk to test this concept in a non-joking remote environment.
Since Cope North 2020 In February last year, exercises in the region were limited due to the epidemic. However, Air Force officials announced ongoing ACE efforts, especially during the Valiant Shield exercise in September.
Sloane said it included F-22 operations on the North Ramp of Andersen Air Force Base, which also includes the first 5th generation, although the scale of the Valiant Shield has been halved.[eration aircraft] refueling and the first hot refueling from a C-130J air bulk fuel delivery system. “
Hot refueling means refueling while the engine of the receiver aircraft is running. The ABFDS uses a 3,000-gallon fuel bag carried on cargo aircraft such as the C-130s and a pumping system to refuel different types of aircraft.
“It gave full combat loads to two F-22s at the same time during the Valiant Shield,” said Sloane, ABFDS. “The commander is very excited about the reconnaissance capability and flexibility this provides.”
The Air Force showed the ABFDS again two months later and refueled two F-22s at Palau’s Koror International Airport. a dynamic force recruitment to exercise.
Palau has signed a Free Association Agreement with the United States. extensive US military operations There. The US also wants to use other regions more.
“We partner, use and operate runway and airport support capabilities in places like Tinian and Saipan,” Sloane said, referring to parts of the Northern Mariana Islands, a non-US region.
U.S. Department of Defense in 2016 chosen As the location of a diverting airport for aircraft that cannot land at a hub such as Tinian, Anderson, and in 2019 the department signed $ 21.9 million in rent for that facility.
Millions of dollars have been included in recent U.S. defense spending bills to build Air Force facilities such as fuel tanks and parking aprons at Tinian.
Sloane said work continues at Palau. Air Force personnel repaired the airport damage at Koror Airport and established a new airspace on the island of Angaur, where only 130 people live. Aviators will travel to Palau for subject change and other preparatory work ahead of Cope North next month.
“These are not easy negotiations for deployments in and out of areas that are currently extremely wary of visitors traveling during the pandemic,” Sloane said. “So really, setting up the theater requires constant diplomatic engagement. I am not kidding when I say such things. Christmas Drop Operation Pay large dividends. “