The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is contemplating utilizing beaches across the Pacific as alternative airstrips for MC-130J Commando II special operations tanker/transports among other aircraft. This strategy is in response to concerns regarding the vulnerability of established bases, especially during the initial stages of a potential conflict against formidable adversaries like China. Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind emphasized the significance of such airstrips and discussed AFSOC’s initiatives to decrease dependency on traditional runways. This includes the potential development of amphibious aircraft variants and vertical takeoff designs.
- AFSOC is aiming for “runway agnostic” operations and is considering using beaches as impromptu airfields to support their MC-130J Commando II aircrafts.
- Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, the head of AFSOC, underscored the importance of these beach airstrips in a recent media conference, highlighting efforts to diversify landing options.
- AFSOC’s MC-130J Commando II, known for its adaptability, has been upgraded with features like the Silent Knight terrain-following/terrain avoidance radar.
- Adversaries are seen as likely to target traditional U.S. bases, necessitating the exploration of alternative landing and operation zones.
- The overall U.S. Air Force is concerned about future base accessibility, particularly in potential conflicts in the Pacific, given China’s growing long-range strike capabilities.