A-10Cs Refueled And Rearmed For The First Time On A U.S. Highway During Northern Agility Exercise


The A-10Cs were refueled and rearmed during Northern Agility 22-1 that demonstrated operations in austere environments under the U.S. Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine through different scenarios.

About a year after the first exercise of this kind, the U.S. Air Force performed a new exercise on a state highway on June 19, 2022. The event was part of the larger Northern Agility 22-1 exercise held by the Air National Guard, Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserves in Michigan to demonstrate the Agile Combat Employment doctrine and prepare aircrews for operations in austere environments.

A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, MC-12W Liberties, C-145 Combat Coyotes, U-28A Dracos and C-146A Wolfhounds were involved in the highway operations, which saw them landing on a closed 9,000-foot section of Michigan highway M-28, perform Integrated Combat Turns and takeoff again. This is the first time that ICTs, which enable the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet, have ever been conducted on a public highway in the U.S., according to the ANG press release.

“Northern Agility 22-1 is an historic exercise that supports the Air Force’s directive to ‘accelerate change or lose,’ as well as the ability of our Airmen to generate combat power anytime, anywhere.” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, assistant adjutant general and commander of the Michigan Air National Guard. “Michigan is a champion for Agile Combat Employment, so when it comes to leveraging our state’s unique partnerships, training environment and resources to ensure the Joint Force stays one step ahead of our adversaries, today was a huge success.”

The temporary landing zone, which was active for about six hours, is one of several progressive training scenarios held during Northern Agility 22-1 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The landing zone was named “Hawk LZ” in honor of F-16 pilot Maj. Durwood “Hawk” Jones from the Wisconsin ANG’s 115th Fighter Wing, who lost his life in a training accident in Michigan in 2020.

Northern Agility 22-1 kicked off on June 27 when KC-135 aircraft from the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, arrived at Sawyer International Airport and performed wet-wing defuel operations in preparation for the exercise. A wet-wing defuel transfers fuel from the wings of an aircraft to another expeditionary fuel bladder or a fuel truck while the engines are still running. This way, a refueling aircraft can land in an austere environment, offload fuel using the aircraft pumps and take off with minimal time on the ground.

The highway operations were initially planned for June 28, however they had to be postponed because of the weather conditions. After the aircraft landed, contrary to last year’s exercise, they received fuel and inert weapons as part of the Integrated Combat Turns, before taking off again for their training missions. The ICTs enabled the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet to reduce the aircrew’s ground time and get them back into the air, so they could deliver air power anytime, anywhere to complicate an adversary’s decision making.

“What we’re doing here is trying to do everything we can do to stay one step from our adversaries,” Northern Agility 22-1 Exercise Director Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski said to journalists. “If we can generate combat airpower from a public highway, we can do it from almost anywhere. If we can operate from a highway, we are very unpredictable and very agile. That’s what we demonstrated here today where you saw the first integrated combat turns for modern combat aircraft on a public highway.”

The Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center teamed with industry partners during Northern Agility 22-1 to demonstrate numerous technologies for augmented reality to enhance the multi-capable Airman concept, rapid integration of the Command & Control ecosystem, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Advanced Threat Detection and Visualization and other capabilities, said the press release. In fact, in some of the videos released to the public, an Airman is seen working on the A-10s countermeasures dispensers while wearing an Augmented Reality headset.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.