The United States has made a chilling demonstration of its warfighting capabilities just days before the election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) as speaker of the house in Congress.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s has made an agreement to cut $75 billion from the defense budget in a deal with the Freedom Caucus to win the chamber’s top slot after 14 previous ballots—is less drastic than its critics on both sides of the aisle are claiming.
Yet, days before Twenty-four huge military transporter planes were launched on Jan. 5, in what marks the largest launch of C-17 aircraft ever from a single base.
The ominous sight also saw what the U.S. Air Force is calling the “largest-ever show-of-force formation flight” over Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
Joint Base Charleston launched the C-17 Globemaster IIIs to conduct a mission generation exercise that integrated Air Force, Army, and Marine forces.
Part of the exercise saw the transporters performing a “rapid infiltration” of deadly HIMARS rocket launchers; the American-made long-range artillery effectively being used by Ukraine forces against Russia.
The U.S. Air Force said the exercise “demonstrated the wing’s ability to rapidly generate and project overwhelming AirPower alongside joint partners.”
The C-17 is a cargo aircraft capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in warzones.
Maj. Zachary Barry, C-17 pilot and lead planner for the exercise, explained: “This is a historic exercise for us because we need to be able to fight tonight.”
“We need to be ready to answer the call, no matter what.”
Maj. Gen. Corey Martin, 18th Air Force commander, said: “Air Mobility Command is the meaningful maneuver for the joint force, and our asymmetric advantage is our adaptable, talented Airmen.
“Every day, we are learning new lessons that we want to apply in combat, so this mission generation exercise is a chance to test our capabilities at a tempo and scale that approximates combat operations.”
The C-17s kicked off the exercise with a show-of-force flight over the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston Harbor and then dispersed to “sharpen four core capabilities: command-and-control, navigation, tempo, and logistics under fire.”
More than twenty red- and blue-air F-16 Fighting Falcons from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and McEntire Air National Guard Base, S.C., fought for air superiority while the joint forces leveraged rapid mobility to establish a simulated missile defense system.
“We have to fight to get to the fight,” said Col. Robert Lankford, 437th Airlift Wing commander. “This exercise tests our ability to accomplish the mission while geographically dispersed and with limited communications,”
To better define and expand on agile combat employment concepts, aircrews practiced flexible deterrent and response options, like the ability to land in austere environments and quickly accomplish the mission at each location.
“This exercise is about readiness and lethality,” said Maj. Barry. “We wanted to get as many aircraft as possible off. the deck in a 48-hour time span, to tell pacing threats that we can go anywhere, anytime.”
The first C-17s landed at Pope Army Airfield, N.C., where Airmen worked alongside a Join Communications Support Element to establish a tactical operation center (TOC).
A statement explains: “The TOC provided secure communication and decentralized command structures to enhance critical decision superiority and prevent disruption.”
Other C-17s that also landed at Pope AAF picked up special tactics Airmen, took off, and flew to the nearby Holland drop zone, where the Airmen accomplished a static line jump. Once on the ground, they secured the dirt landing strip for follow-on operations.
At Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., C-17 aircrews landed, quickly uploaded HIMARS rocket launchers, flew to Pope AAF, and then performed a HIMARS rapid infiltration, or HIRAIN.
The C-17s that landed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., executed an integrated combat turn to quickly refuel U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters.
At Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, aircrews focused on logistics under fire. Aircrews leveraged multi-capable concepts to maneuver cargo, which means they exercised skills that were outside their primary duties to accomplish the mission.
“What we’re practicing is a flexible deterrent and flexible response options,” Barry said. “If we can move really quickly, it makes it harder for the adversary to respond.”
During the exercise, nearly 60 aircraft – including an E-3 Sentry and KC 135 Stratotankers – were in the air, synchronizing capabilities to maximize lethality. Airmen also experimented with C2 equipment that will provide information for aircrews to increase their battle space awareness in a contested environment.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker.