Wednesday, April 6, 2016

U.S. Air Force Preparing for ‘High Volume’ Operations in Europe

The Air Force is looking for additional ways to prepare for a potential war against an advanced adversary in Europe, a top commander said April 5.

The efforts come at a time of heighted tensions with a resurgent Russia, which has been probing NATO air defenses and deploying forces abroad.

“Another activity which I’m keen on … [is] continuing to develop the airfields, particularly on the eastern side of NATO: the Baltics, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, and then a couple of other projects elsewhere that would make … an easier place to go to accomplish what I call high-volume/high velocity kind of operations,” Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander U.S Air Forces Europe and Allied Air Command, told reporters at a breakfast in Washington, D.C.

The service needs additional airfields with strong runways, ramps, fuel and weapons storage, he said.

“All of those kinds of things that would allow us to react and to accept force if necessary in order to create an airfield environment where we could generate … sorties [and] combat power from the air as part of the joint campaign,” he said. “My focus and my concern is to make sure that we have the available infrastructure to accept incoming rotational forces, or if something happens on a large scale … that we would have the ability to bed down all of the aircraft, or any kind of reinforcement that comes into Europe.”

The Air Force is also looking at utilizing under-developed airfields in the event of conflict as part of its Rapid-X initiative.

“Rapid-X is basically the idea that we’re going to deploy airplanes in a very agile and quick way to accommodate missions maybe from bases that don’t necessarily have the full infrastructure,” Gorenc said. For example, “we would bring in four aircraft and then go ahead and rearm them and maintain them and then they go fly another mission, and then we leave that base.”

“That’s important to make sure that we’re able to fully explore all of the locations that are available to us in Europe, maybe not in a robust way as we would … a big base with lots of infrastructure, but to be able to take advantage and create challenges for any potential adversary with respect to being able to interrupt our operations,” he added.

Officials are eyeing eastern and southern Europe as areas where those types of makeshift bases could potentially be located, he said.