by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs
10/10/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
newest strategy in fighter employment will enable combat-ready F-22's
to rapidly refuel, rearm, and redeploy. The new concept was demonstrated
here during joint exercises in August.
The usual method of deploying fighters is structured around large
footprint packages to a select few operating bases. The new rapid
response force concept was developed by Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield, a
Reserve F-22 pilot assigned to the 477th Fighter Group.
"This concept emphasizes the fundamental tenants of airpower: speed,
flexibility, and surprise by pairing smaller formations of fighters and
airlift that can move quickly together and operate from unexpected
locations," said Sutterfield.
After penning a white paper that circulated through the Pentagon and
Combatant Command staffs, Sutterfield partnered with active duty and
Reserve experts around the combat Air Force to further flush out the
"Pilots from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, the USAF Weapons
School, and the CSAF's Strategic Studies Group played important roles in
making this a reality," he said. "We determined we needed to find a way
to quickly generate and move small cells of 5th generation jets ...
keep them moving, refueling, and rearming for a 72-hour cycle".
To test these theories, experienced pilots and maintainers from the 3rd
Wing and 477th Fighter Group developed exercises in 2009, 2010, and
The events enabled line pilots and maintainers to develop innovative
tactics and practice under realistic combat stresses. In one example,
F-22's from JBER executed a practice strike on targets in the Atlantic
Ocean by flying very nearly over the North Pole. It demonstrated the
strategic location of Alaska and the ability for airpower to hold
targets at risk from great distances.
"This concept decreases the logistical burden of deploying a Fighter
Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit and instead uses a flexible
combination of four F-22s, one C-17, a tailored maintenance package and
trained personnel to quickly project airpower anywhere on the globe,"
said Lt. Col. Robert Davis, former JBER 525th Fighter Squadron commander
and current Air War College student, who played an integral role in
making this concept a reality for the F-22s.
After several successful exercises the concept is now an operational reality.
"The concept of this rapid fighter response and its successful
demonstration are the result of the synergies available when the active
and reserve components work together in leveraging their corresponding
strengths," said Col. Tyler Otten, 477th FG commander. "Lt. Col.
Sutterfield's experience, longevity as a Reservist and innovative
thought were the genesis of this idea that we were able to execute as
reserve and active mission partners. This is the total force in action."
Although it was the concept of one pilot, the entire Total Force
Enterprise at JBER from the maintainers, weapons loaders, fuels
specialists, loadmasters of the active duty and Reserve pilots can be
credited with successful demonstration of this concept.
"This rapid response force is a direct result of Airmen empowered to
innovate," said Col. David Nahom, 3rd Wing commander. "There is no
greater site to watch the professionalism, pride, and teamwork of our
young operators and maintainers who collaborated to prove their