Military forces around the world have to work, and sometimes fight, in any and every condition and environment imaginable from hot, dry deserts to dense, wet jungles and even frigid arctic tundra. Special operators have long integrated snowmobiles into the mix patrolling giant swaths of Alaska and to meet and counter near peer adversaries such as Russia.
But having specialized and high tech gear is of little value if you cannot effectively transport it to where it's needed. This is where the USAF Special Operations Air Wing comes into play. While the F-35 fighter and B-2 bomber might get the most press, the quiet yet necessary work of transport craft such as the CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor is equally important. And a new feature designed to lift, load, and move special operations configured snowmobiles gets the job done effectively.
Recently, the 352d Special Operations Air Wing fitted, demonstrated, and tested the Snowmobile Loading and Transportation System (SLATS) in Norway during winter training between U.S. and Norwegian forces. The system consists of rubber horse-style mats affixed with carabiners to the bottom of the CV-22 cargo hold. The SLATS system allows for the quick and easy transport of snowmobiles and other cold weather vehicles right up and onto the back of the CV-22. Check it out below.
During operations in Norway and subsequent training in Sweden, both Special Operators and Marines tested out their gear with partner nations. Interoperability of personnel, systems, and tactics are integral to maintaining sound military operations. Other NATO partners also participated in arctic training exercises. And while the SLATS system is the newest addition to USAF Special Operations Forces, tests such as these are necessary to shake out any bugs and ensure the operation of SLATS when needed.
This most recent addition to the USAF Special Operations arsenal is an indication that they are taking the threat of Russia and their assertiveness in northern latitudes very seriously. The SLATS system will allow military forces to project power and protect people and resources in an area of the world that while cold is growing increasingly hot. Buckle up.