The U.S. Air Force has purposely landed modern aircraft on a civilian roadway in the U.S. for the first time.
The Air Force said in a release that on June 29, Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, Air Force Special Operations Command MC-12W, C-145A and U-28A aircraft, along with a C-146A aircraft from the Air Force Reserves, made history by conducting landing, taking off, and performing Integrated Combat Turns (ICTs) on a closed 9,000-foot section of Michigan highway M-28.
The temporary landing zone is one of several progressive training scenarios held this week under the Michigan Air National Guard’s exercise Northern Agility 22-1 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 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.
Northern Agility 22-1 demonstrates the U.S. Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine, which is about being ready to execute missions quickly in unpredictable ways. 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 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.”
Staging and additional training activities for contested logistics, sustainment, and multi-capable Airmen concepts are being held this week at other locations in Alger County including Sawyer International Airport and Hanley Field, Alger County’s local airport.
Participating units include AFSOC’s 1st Special Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida and 6th Special Operations Squadron, Duke Field, Florida; the Air Force Reserve’s 119th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field; the Michigan ANG’s 127th Wing, Selfridge ANG Base; the Oklahoma ANG’s 137th Special Operations Wing, Will Rogers ANG Base; and the Maryland ANG’s 175th Fighter Wing, Warfield ANG Base. Additionally, an MQ-9 Reaper from the North Dakota ANG’s 119th Wing, Fargo ANG Base, crewed by Airmen from the Michigan ANG’s 110th Wing, Battle Creek ANG Base were involved.
“Northern Agility 22-1 would not be possible without the long-term partnerships that exist between the Michigan National Guard and the Michigan State Police, Michigan Dept. of Transportation, Alger County Sheriff’s Office, and of course, support from our neighbors in the Upper Peninsula,” said Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski, lead operations planner for Northern Agility 22-1. “We see exercises like this as an investment in the U.P. that are critical to the state’s future economic success. Beyond that, this is an extraordinary training opportunity for our Airmen delivered by the unwavering support of patriotic Michiganders.”
Additionally, 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.
The Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center, based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, Michigan, is a living laboratory where new ideas and technologies are born, tested, and evaluated for the future war fight. Michigan is also home to the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC), which
encompasses nearly 148,000 acres of ground maneuver area and 17,000 square miles of special use airspace, making the state an engine for testing and innovation across the Department of Defense.
“Michigan is home to an incredible manufacturing spirit, business culture, and immense pride and patriotism that makes it a great place for the Department of Defense to continue to train for the future warfight,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “With Northern Agility 22-1, Michigan is moving Agile Combat Employment forward for the U.S. Air Force while integrating technologies from leading-edge companies and industries across the country. It demonstrates that when it comes to bringing that culture of hard work and innovation together for experimentation and development, Michigan is the place to be.”