Strategic Deployment of the IBCT
The Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) specified that the IBCT must be able to be transported to a crisis zone in 96 hours or less, a division within 120 hours, and a corps of five divisions within 30 days 17. The C-130 does not posses sufficient range to deploy the brigade from CONUS to a crisis area; thus the only way to currently accomplish this task is to move the initial brigade is via C-5 or C-17.
Using methods found in Command and General Staff Collect Student Text 110-2, US Air Force Basic Data, dated May 199318 , we determined movement of a wheeled Brigade Combat Team massing 10503 tons from Fort Stewart to Saudi Arabia would require 76 of 104 C-5s and 92 of 120 C-17s. In contrast an IBCT consisting of M113s and M8s masses 8973 tons and is also transportable in 96 hours, but only uses 62 C-5s and 81 C-17s. If the same numbers of aircraft are used as for the wheeled IBCT, then it can close in approximately 88 hours. Air to air refueling of the C-5s and C-17s could reduce this time.
The brigade would first be delivered to a staging base and then transfer the vehicles to C-130s for deliver to a forward operating base (FOB) in order to lessen the risk to its transports. In any event, ADA around the landing zone would have to be suppressed and artillery destroyed at least out to medium artillery range to assure safe deliver of the men and equipment. Depending on the distance, the IBCT may have to move forward under its own power or on the back of Host Nation transport.
The ability to move a division in 120 hours - another CSA requirement - is unsupportable given the present number of aircraft available. And the final requirement, 5 divisions in 30 days, is achievable only through the use of sealift.
IBCT deployment is also at risk because of the other demands made upon the C-5 and C-17. The Air Force will likely have to move at least one Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) into theatre at the same time as the IBCT is deployed and it has the same 96 hour deployment objective. While the AEW's aircraft are self-deploying, the support equipment, ground crews, and supporting units such as civil engineering, air base security, maintenance, and medical are not. Marine and Navy requirements may also compete for the available pool of C-5 and C-17 aircraft. The theatre CINC has to decide which units he wants first.
Clearly, another method must be found to aid in the deployment of Army formations.
The only other aircraft capable of transporting large amounts of cargo is the 747. The 747-400F can carry 21,347 cubic feet of cargo on its main deck, with a cargo weight of 249,125 pounds to a distance of 5,063 miles19.
The 747 has significant shortcomings for oversize cargo but is capable of moving some vehicles:
|"Problems associated with loading CRAF aircraft are not usually encountered in loading military aircraft. The cargo compartment of a B-747, for example, is 16 feet above ground level (AGL). Standard military materials-handling equipment cannot be used to load the aircraft. Like the floors of the KC-10, the floors of all civilian aircraft are not strong enough to withstand the ground pressure of vehicles. A subfloor of 463L pallets must be installed before loading any vehicles. Despite subflooring, any vehicle heavier than a 2 1/2-ton truck cannot be loaded onto most civilian aircraft. Pallet stations may also have weight restrictions, and planners must adjust loads."20
It is unclear which 2.5 Ton truck the document is referencing. The M35A2 in AR220-10 mode weighs 13,180 pounds empty and with cargo can weigh up to 18,180 pounds. The M1078 Cargo truck weighs 19,351 pounds empty and up to 24,351 pounds. Both vehicles are certified for transport in the C-130, C-141, C-5, and C-17, but only the M35A2 is certified for the 74721.
No vehicle, larger than the M35 truck is currently certified for the 747.
If the 747 cargo floor can be strengthened to accept the 23,800 - 27,000 pound weight of the M113A3 and the 38,500 pound weight of the M8, then procuring sufficient aircraft to move an IBCT would considerably ease the burden on the C-5/C-17 fleet, provided the M113A3 was adopted as the primary vehicle for the IBCT. It may well actually be possible to transport the M113, due to its lower ground pressure with little or no modification to the 747, since its spreads its weight over a greater area than the lighter M35 2.5 ton truck. This modification may be as simple as placing a layer of 463L pallets on the cargo floor.
Equipment exists to load M113s and other vehicles onto the 747. The Boeing on Board Loader is capable of lifting an 11 ton load onto a Cargo 747, that has been strengthened by the addition of 463L cargo pallets to accept vehicles weighing up to 11,000 pounds 22. The 316E Cochren Loader can lift loads to 40,000 pounds and having dimensions of 128 inches wide, 288 inches long, with a minimum height of 19 inches, and a maximum height restricted by the aircraft23. It should be possible to develop a ramp that lets vehicles drive into the 747 cargo compartment via the nose cargo door.