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Deploying SOA to a theater of operations requires extensive logistical planning. It also requires that the advantages of SOA base locations be weighed against mission requirements. Once SOA forces are in theater, their employment flexibility directly relates to their aircraft maintenance requirements.


a. Each type of aircraft has individual and different maintenance requirements. Regularly scheduled inspections, retorques, and component replacement for each aircraft differ. Scheduled maintenance for each aircraft is also different, both in terms of requirements and the time it takes to complete the maintenance.

b. The MH-60L CMS-80 aircraft requires phase maintenance every 500 flight hours. The MH-47 has a 300-hour phase maintenance requirement, and the new SOA aircraft (MH-60K and MH-47E) have more stringent requirements for component overhaul and inspection. The maintenance phase for the MH-60K and CH-47E takes longer to complete because of the increase in sophisticated onboard systems.

c. Inspections, component replacements, phase maintenance, and test flights must be accomplished if SOA forces are to continue operations. Test equipment, special tools, and aircraft maintenance facilities are required for most aircraft maintenance procedures. An overhead hoist capability and specific electrical power requirements for test sets must also be provided for some maintenance procedures. Planners must consider aircraft maintenance requirements when SOA are to be used for extended operations.


Command, control, communications, and service support of deployed SOA must also be considered when planning for the use of SOA. The C2 link must be maintained between the theater air mission manager and the SOA chain of command and between the deployed SOA and the logistics provider. The SOA commander is normally responsible for coordinating logistical support with the TASOC well in advance of planned operations. SOA forces bring an additional 15-day supply of Class IX repair parts into theater. Deployed SOA forces also transport into theater SOF-peculiar spares. These components must often be repaired at depot facilities in CONUS. The Army theater component commander can provide only those common items of aviation Class IX repair parts that conventional Army aviation aircraft use.

a. Port-of-Entry Requirements.

(1) Special operations aviation forces usually arrive in theater by strategic air. Air Force aircraft are normally a scarce asset when US forces are also involved in other theater operations. Consequently, SOA will tailor the force to eliminate organic nonaviation maintenance support assets needed to accomplish the mission.

(2) Equipment that can be provided by the host nation or theater Army is not included on load plans. Unit vehicles are left in CONUS, allowing space for aircraft on available airlifts. When SOA must transport unit aircraft to the theater without organic support equipment, the theater must provide certain support. Without this support, SOA may not be successful in the long-term campaign. A requirement for support is normally communicated through a statement of requirements that is transmitted to the special operations command support element.

(3) Immature theaters that require SOA assets need more strategic air support to move unit support equipment, vehicles, aircraft maintenance shops and shelters, generators, and other support equipment that theater cannot provide.

b. Airfields and Theater Airports.

(1) To take advantage of employed theater air defense and instrument flight recovery operations, SOA forces normally operate from airfield or airport locations. They also operate from airfields or airports to expedite the movement of Class IX aviation repair parts and to take advantage of bulk aviation fuel storage and aircraft security.

(2) The SOA initial staging base is normally the theater port of entry. Air Force C5 aircraft normally deliver SOA to the theater; therefore, the majority of unit equipment will require theater transportation from the POE to other staging bases/sites or base locations. Sometimes, SOA forces may arrive in theater simultaneously with the assigned missions. Follow-on support base equipment will follow and should arrive at the SOA base of operation. In this case, the SOA ISB may be located on board a naval vessel or at a remote location within the range of unit aircraft. SOA forces can operate from field locations for limited periods. In all cases, however, SOA requires--

  • the necessary security forces to protect its aircraft, unit assets, personnel, aircraft maintenance facilities, operations centers, and ammunition storage sites.

  • facilities to conduct specialized electrical components and systems repair.

  • billeting facilities that separate aircrews that work at night from soldiers and other personnel that work during the day.

  • sufficiently lighted planning areas to conduct 24-hour operations.

  • an area for holding and distributing large quantities of aviation fuel.

  • a suitable area for parking, securing, and protecting unit aircraft.

  • a location where secret, compartmented information can be processed and stored.

  • a certain amount of theater-supplied, wheeled vehicle transportation.

  • intratheater transportation for follow-on moves to other locations and for resupply operations from theater area supply points to SOA base locations.

E-3. SUPPORTING SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES Special operations aviation forces may collocate with the supported SOF unit, centrally locate close to supported SOF units, or locate to protect assets, and then move forward to an ISB to perform their mission.

a. The protection of SOA aircraft, equipment, and assets must be balanced against mission requirements. Mission coordination with the supported commander must occur in face-to-face meetings, but SOA assets do not necessarily have to be positioned with the supported commander's forces. The position of SOA forces on the battlefield must be carefully planned when multiple SOF units are to be supported with limited SOA assets.

b. Logistics, aircraft maintenance and protection, mission rehearsal, and mission coordination must all be addressed. SOA forces can operate for limited periods at forward-deployed locations, as defined by aircraft maintenance and logistical requirements. Normally, aircraft maintenance is not performed at these locations. Aircraft and crews return to maintenance bases after the mission is completed and are then pushed forward before the next mission is launched. These locations can be very austere; therefore, aircraft protection from artillery and indirect fire weapons must be carefully considered. The less time SOA aircraft remain in these locations the better. Because of limited SOA assets, aircraft are usually shared within theater when they are not being used for direct support of SOF.


a. Single Location. This option gives SOA forces the ability to provide quality maintenance to all in-theater aircraft. Basing SOA in this manner permits the consolidation of all aircraft maintenance efforts and lessens command and control problems. In addition, communications networks and 24-hour work schedules are easier to maintain and pressure on personnel and equipment is reduced. Placing all theater SOA in one location is ideal when only one SOF element or unit must be supported. This is the best solution for SOA support in theater. Ideally, this location would also be the POE and have hangars, security, and operational facilities centrally located on the airfield.

b. Intermediate Staging Base at the POE (Base Location) and Multiple Forward Operating Bases.

(1) This option will require SOA forces to rotate aircraft between the FOB and the ISB or wherever base maintenance is positioned. Aircraft services, complex inspections, component overhauls, and modifications must be performed at the base maintenance location. Battle damage repairs and scheduled maintenance (phase maintenance) also must be performed at the base maintenance location. Depending on aircraft status and scheduled maintenance requirements, units may operate for a time at FOB locations. SOA aircraft have major component changes more frequently than conventional Army aircraft. Component overhauls are best performed at the base maintenance location; however, with considerably more effort, they can be performed at FOB locations. Depending on the expected duration of the operation, aircraft maintenance records are secured at the base maintenance location or at CONUS.

(2) When SOA forces are based at multiple forward locations, communications assets can be stretched to the maximum. Under these conditions, backup communications may not be possible in some FOB locations. SOA battalions can normally operate at one base location (ISB) and two FOB locations for limited periods. Aircraft may be pushed forward from the FOB to perform missions (launches) at staging bases, but they will not deploy with maintenance assets. These aircraft must return to the FOB after the mission is completed. Figure E-1 shows the relationship of special forces operational bases to the JSOA and the basing of aircraft in theater. Figure E-2 shows special operations base sites in support of SF operations.

Figure E-1. Aircraft basing in theater (relationship of SF operational bases to JSOA)

Figure E-2. Special operations aviation base sites (in support of SF operations)

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