In 2021, the Air Force validated its ability to land modern aircraft, including the A-10 Thunderbolt II, on a public highway and send them back up into the air. On June 29, 2022, the Air Force expanded on this capability by performing the first refueling and rearming on a public U.S. highway.
Northern Agility 22-1 was an exercise led by the Michigan Air National Guard in the state’s Upper Peninsula. In Alger County, a 9,000-foot stretch of Michigan Highway M-28 was closed off to support integrated combat turns for multiple aircraft. ICTs enable the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet.
In addition to Air National Guard A-10s, the exercise involved an Air Force Special Operations Command MC-12W Liberty and C-145A Combat Coyote as well as an Air Force Reserve U-28A Draco and C-146A Wolfhound. All aircraft successfully landed, performed ICTs, and took back off from Highway M-28. The exercise demonstrated the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine to execute missions quickly and in unpredictable ways.
During the exercise, the landing zone was designated LZ Hawk. This was done in honor of Maj. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, an F-16 pilot from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing. Maj. Jones lost his life during a training mishap in Michigan on December 8, 2020.