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ACC’s Air Operations Squadron: “We Deliver”

  • Published
  • By Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Moving fighter aircraft across oceans is not as easy as a typical cross-country drive. Transoceanic fighter movements require extensive mission planning and briefing, along with robust contingency options in case something goes wrong. There is only one place in the world where that happens -- Air Combat Command’s Air Operations Squadron.

Over the past twenty-eight years, the AOS has provided planning and execution support for every fighter aircraft in the Department of Defense and even supports fighter movements for allied and partner nations. The AOS team of 74 members provides 24/7 support from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Ramstein Air Base, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. 

AOS missions are called “Coronets,” and involve close coordination between fighter units, tanker units, air traffic control organizations, and foreign nations to ensure fighters can safely travel long distances and across oceans. 

“We make sure that there is a good plan to get the fighters from point A to point B,” said Lt. Col. Kelly Travis, Air Operations Squadron Director of Staff. “More importantly, we guarantee that if something goes wrong, they will have enough gas and safe weather to land somewhere else.”

In 2021, the AOS moved 1,500 fighters from the continental U.S. to overseas locations and back. Those movements, however, would not happen without a team effort from the whole squadron. 

Starting in the plans flight section, the team collects the relevant details regarding the mission, and coordinates with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Transportation Command and the tasked units. From there, the route and gas required is determined, and all the information is passed to the delivery support flight to build the products the aircrew will use to execute the coronet. The weather flight provides 24/7 forecast support for all Coronet missions, in addition to supporting the operations flight. The operations flight then secures the clearances required for air traffic control and foreign nations, and is present for the execution of the mission along with the AOS mission control center. 

“Knowing there is an entire team to support our jet movements from point A to point B lifts a significant burden from the fighter squadron,” said Capt. Samuel Larson, 27th Fighter Squadron Director of Flights. “We can focus on the finer details of flying jets across an ocean such as possible emergencies or divert situations and this is largely due to the AOS taking care of the administrative details. Their support enables us to rapidly mobilize and focus on tactically preparing for whatever AOR we've been tasked to go to.”

The AOS not only supports aircrew deploying to combat operations, but also gets them back home safely. 

“The work our team does is first-class, and no one else in the world can get fighters into the fight better than we can,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Blakeman, AOS Commander. “But by far, the most important thing we do is to return aircrew home to their friends, families, and loved ones.”