The US Air Force last month conducted a drill rehearsing the evacuation of thousands of casualties in the Pacific as part of its preparations for a future war with China in the region, The South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.
The drills were part of Mobility Guardian, exercises led by the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command that involved six US allies; Australia, Japan, Canada, France, Britain, and New Zealand.
The four-star general in charge of Air Mobility Command, Gen. Mike Minihan, made headlines earlier this year for predicting that the US would be at war with China by 2025 in a memo to his officers.
Air Force Times reported last week that the Air Force “is rethinking how it would medically evacuate thousands of wounded American troops from the Pacific in a matter of weeks if the military sustained high casualties in a war with China.”
War games conducted by Washington-based think tanks have predicted massive casualties in the first weeks of a conflict between the US and China over Taiwan. “In three weeks, the United States will suffer about half as many casualties as it did in 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank funded by the US, Taiwan, several other governments, and many leading US arms makers.
According to the Air Force, during the Mobility Guardian drills, the US and allied forces “conducted the successful deployment of two specialized Aeromedical Evacuation teams operating on a C-130 Hercules. During this event, the crews effectively moved 48 patients on six unregulated missions.”
The Mobility Guardian drills also involved the testing of Rapid Dragon, a weapons system that allows C-130 and C-17 cargo planes to launch long-range cruise missiles that are normally fired by large bombers. Minihan told Aviation Week that the system means US “adversaries” have to view military cargo planes as a threat.
“Now the adversary has an infinitely higher problem to worry about. [They] don’t need to worry just about the bombers, [they] have to worry about this C-130 and every other C-130 on the planet,” he said. “C-130s can do it. All of our partners and allies fly them, so you can give the adversary an infinite amount of dilemmas that they need to worry about.”