Furthering agility and lethality: McChord C-17s refuel, re-arm F-35s

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachel Williams and Senior Airman Callie Norton
  • 62d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, forward deployed to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, to participate in Exercise Monster Jam, March 6-9, 2023.

The intent for the exercise was to verify the 7th Airlift Squadron’s ability to employ and perform in a high intensity environment while supporting wartime operations against a peer adversary.

The C-17s integrated with four F-35A Lightning IIs out of the 4th Fighter Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah, for this monumental, first of its kind, execution.

On March 7, the C-17 crews departed to Michael Army Airfield, Utah, to conduct the first-ever off-station integrated combat turn (ICT) with F-35s.

An ICT is the rapid re-arming and refueling of a running aircraft to reduce time on the ground and to quickly get the aircrew back in the fight.

After its completion, the site was completely collapsed – leaving no footprint at Michael Army Airfield.

The F-35s then set conditions over the Utah Test and Training Range for C-17s to conduct simulated training airdrops to a contest forward location.

These scenarios mirrored a peer threat environment requiring integration between Combat Air Force and Mobility Air Force Airmen to achieve mission success.

Over the next couple of days, fuels airmen, maintainers, multi-capable airmen and aircrew conducted additional ICTs and simulated airdrop scenarios. By the third day, the ground time for the duration of the ICT was reduced by more than 90 minutes.

“[Monster Jam] built on the experiences and successes of Rainier War 22B,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Sergio Anaya, 62d Operations Group commander.  “The ability to regenerate fighter aircraft while continuing to employ the C-17s combat capabilities will further our force’s agility and lethality.”

Monster Jam proved that the C-17 aircrew, specifically with the 7th AS, can operate in a contested peer environment designed around pacing threats, can conduct Agile Combat Employment concepts, and single-ship capabilities to regenerate a four-ship of F-35 aircraft.

“The men and women of the 7th Airlift Squadron are continually seeking to sharpen the skills and hone the experiences needed to employ and win future conflicts,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brandon Westling, 7th AS commander. “Exercise Monster Jam demonstrated their ability to project combat air forces at speed and maneuver not previously seen in a 5th Generation fighter aircraft formation. The agility demonstrated here will set the baseline for agile combat employment between mobility and combat aircraft, as well as the Airmen that support them.”