Rapid Raptor 2.0

Pacific Air Forces recently validated a new operational maneuver that builds on the Rapid Raptor concept that was first introduced in 2013. Known as Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, the new concept builds on Rapid Raptor, which focused on quickly deploying small contingents of F-22s to smaller, sometimes austere bases along with a much smaller logistics package. ACE enables US forces to operate from places where they may not necessarily have traditional bases, ensuring troops are ready if a conflict arises. “Now we’re taking it to the larger concept of, ‘How do we operationally maneuver that? How do we work the command and control for that? How do we make sure that the aircraft that are out, potentially in smaller locations, still tie into the bigger picture?’” PACAF boss Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy told reporters at AWS17 on March 2. O’Shaughnessy said the command tested the concept with the recent deployment of two F-22 Raptors and one C-17 to the Avalon Airshow in Geelong, Australia. The F-22s deployed from Alaska to RAAF Base Tindal, Australia, which is a typical forward operating base, to the much smaller RAAF Base Townsville. The fighters brought just one C-17 with them and practiced refueling on the ground from the C-17’s wing tanks. However, O’Shaughnessy said it is possible the Navy or Army might also provide fuel bladders to refuel the fighters, whether it be F-22s, F-15s, F-16s, or allied aircraft. O’Shaughnessy said an F-22 pilot also rode on the C-17 and remained in constant contact with the air operations center at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. “This gives us the flexibility to be able to go anywhere in the Indo-Asia-Pacific without a lot of logistics or infrastructure and still be able to operate in a contested environment,” he said.