On August 5, 2021, four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, took part in Northern Strike 21-2. The large-scale exercise saw the four Warthogs validate a capability that had yet to be proven: Land a modern military aircraft and take off from a public highway designed for cars.
The A-10 is a tough aircraft designed to operate in austere environments. As a frontline close-air support attack aircraft, it is capable of landing and taking off from various surfaces like unimproved landing strips and, of course, highways. This capability allows the Air Force to project combat airpower quicker and closer to the battlefield.
Guided by special tactics operators, the A-10s proved this capability by landing on a closed public highway in Alpena, Michigan during the exercise. Two C-146A Wolfhounds from Air Force Special Operations Command also executed highway landings during the exercise.
“This proof of concept proves that we can land on any highway and continue to operate,” Capt. John Renner, 354th Fighter Squadron flight commander and one of the pilots who conducted a highway landing, said. “The A-10 allows us to land a lot more places to get fuel, weapons and other armament so we can operate anywhere, anytime. This will allow us to get away from using built-up bases that our adversaries can target by moving much more rapidly.”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. leads the service with an “Accelerate, Change, or Lose” strategic approach. It calls for the service to test and validate innovative and unconventional tactics that are not typically trained in order to outpace any future adversaries. Landing modern military aircraft on public U.S. highways is in keeping with this approach.
“We are ready to get within striking range, and we are ready to go generate and deliver attack airpower from thousands of locations across the world,” said Lt. Col. Gary Glojek, 354th Fighter Squadron commander. “We are going to continue to get lighter, faster, more maneuverable and more flexible as we do that.” Watch the video here:
Feature Image: U.S. Air Force photo