US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts Operate From a Highway for the First Time
On August 4th, the Michigan Department of Transport (DOT) tweeted the closure of the M-32, a highway west of Alpena, for five hours the next day. The closure was meant to allow the first-of-its-kind movement on US highways, military aircraft. The next day, four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs purposely landed on the highway strip and took off later, the US Air Force said in a press release.
But the Michigan DOT could not contain its excitement and tweeted videos of the airplanes and the events in its jurisdiction.
https://t.co/Uo9nQ8zrkv pic.twitter.com/vSQ21v4hwF— Michigan DOT (@MichiganDOT) August 5, 2021
In case you missed the aircraft details on that one, here's another one.
Another A-10 @MINationalGuard aircraft takeoff during testing on M-32 near #Alpena. pic.twitter.com/133apQXDL9— Michigan DOT (@MichiganDOT) August 5, 2021
Two of the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs were from the 354th Fighter Squadron, while the other two were from Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing, the Air Force clarified. The landing and take-offs were part of a planned training exercise termed Northern Strike 21.
Joining the exercise, were also two C-146A Wolfhounds from the Air Force Special Operations Command, whose video was also tweeted by the Michigan DOT
A C-146 @MINationalGuard aircraft takes off during testing on M-32 near #Alpena. pic.twitter.com/5TcdPwup52— Michigan DOT (@MichiganDOT) August 5, 2021
The intent to test was declared earlier in the month of July. Part of the US Air Force's Agile Combat Employment (ACE) operation concept, the test demonstrates the Air Force's agility and the critical edge over its adversaries. The Michigan National Guard hosts the National All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) that comprises of the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center. The NADWC offers 148,000 acres of maneuver space and 17,000 miles of special use airspace.
Capt. John Renner, 354th FS flight commander and one of the pilots involved in the exercise said, "This proof of concept proves that we can land on any highway and continue to operate." Stressing on the role of the A-10, he said, "The A-10 allows us to land a lot more places to get fuel, weapons, and other armament (sic) so we can operate anywhere, anytime. This will allow us to get away from using built-up bases that our adversaries can target by moving much more rapidly."
To enable the testing, powerlines in the area were temporarily disconnected and Air Force personnel were in direct contact with affected homes. The Michigan DOT also removed some road signs and clarified that no changes were made to the road surface for this exercise.
But that did not stop a Twitter user from pointing out that the strip where the planes landed was probably the only one without potholes. If that were true, kudos to the pilots.
The Michigan State Police too, couldn't hide their joy of the historic event and shared a video of their own.
You don’t see this everyday on a Michigan highway. pic.twitter.com/wb07gyKtWg— @MSPNorthernMI (@mspnorthernmi) August 5, 2021