ACC To Designate CAS-Focused F-16, F-15E Squadrons

The Air Force is examining just how it will retool the training paradigm for an unspecified number of F-16 and F-15E squadrons to elevate close air support as their primary mission tasking, an Air Combat Command official told reporters in a Thursday briefing. Maj. Michael Albrecht, the F-35 functional area manager at ACC’s operations directorate at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., said one of the tasks taken from the recent CAS Focus Week was to identify specific squadrons of multi-role fighters that will primarily train for CAS operations. “It would take turning their (designed operational capability) statement to include CAS as a primary mission,” Albrecht said, as opposed to defensive counter air operations or suppression of enemy air defenses. A given squadron could fly 12 CAS training missions and 50 defensive counter air missions in a regular training cycle, Albrecht noted as an example. A squadron designated for CAS would train for CAS the majority of the time with DCA as a secondary tasking. “They will still do the broad range of missions they already do, but they would reorder their missions,” he said. The concept is just six days old, he emphasized, adding ACC is now taking action on it and “examining its implications.”