Historic highway landing advances Agile Combat Employment

  • Published
  • By Capt. Andrew Layton
  • Michigan National Guard

Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II, Air Force Special Operations Command MC-12W Liberty, C-145A Combat Coyote and U-28A Draco, and a C-146A Wolfhound from the Air Force Reserves landed, took off and performed integrated combat turns on a closed 9,000-foot section of Michigan highway M-28.

It was the first time integrated combat turns, which enable the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet, have been conducted on a public highway in the United States. The temporary landing zone is one of several progressive training scenarios held this week during the Michigan Air National Guard’s exercise Northern Agility 22-1 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Northern Agility 22-1 demonstrates the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine — 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 ANG. “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 were being held this week at other locations in Alger County, including Sawyer International Airport and Hanley Field. 

Participating units include AFSOC’s 1st Special Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida, and 6th Special Operations Squadron, Duke Field, Florida; Air Force Reserve’s 119th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field; Michigan ANG’s 127th Wing, Selfridge ANG Base; Oklahoma ANG’s 137th Special Operations Wing, Will Rogers ANG Base; and 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 Department of Transportation, Alger County Sheriff’s Office, and of course, support from our neighbors in the Upper Peninsula,” said Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski, Northern Agility 22-1 lead operations planner.  

The Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center also teamed with industry partners during Northern Agility 22-1 to demonstrate technologies for augmented reality to enhance the multi-capable Airman concept, rapid integration of the command and control ecosystem, synthetic aperture radar and advanced threat detection and visualization. 

“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 war fight,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Michigan National Guard adjutant general and Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs director.”