The A-10 refueled and rearmed on a public highway for the first time

Miguel Ortiz Avatar

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.

An A-10 on Highway M-28 during Northern Agility 22-1 (U.S. Air Force)

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.

Airmen perform an ICT on an A-10 on Highway M-28 (U.S. Air Force)

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.

A-10s landed, refueled, rearmed, and took back off from Highway M-28 (U.S. Air Force)

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.