MQ-9 has Landed on a Highway for the First Time
AFSOC’s exercise included MC-130J Commando II, two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, and two MH-6 Little Birds landings on Highways 287 and 789 on Apr. 30 and May 2, 2023, respectively.
Instead of huge, fixed bases and infrastructure, ACE relies on smaller, more scattered locations and teams to quickly transport and support aircraft, pilots, and other personnel wherever needed. ACE was primarily concerned with proving the concept of completing operational moves inside threat timelines to improve survivability while generating combat power. Personnel and assets from the Total Force, comprising federal, state, and local authorities, were present at the event. Participating units landed an MC-130J Commando II, an MQ-9 Reaper, and two A-10 Warthogs on Wyoming Highway 287 while performing FARP, Integrated Combat Turnarounds (ICT), and taking off from the highway.
In addition, the 15th Special Operations Squadron landed an MC-130J Commando II and two MH-6 Little Birds on Wyoming Highway 789 to undertake a time-sensitive personnel rescue mission with Airmen from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron. During the exercise’s major incidents, airmen from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron secured landing zones and operated the roadways as useable runways.