A top U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) official on Oct. 26 highlighted the command’s need for High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) systems and SOCOM’s planned shift to a 60 percent focus on deterring China and Russia.

“As you look at the Indo-Pacific, it is a very large operating area so we need weapons systems that have that theater dash capability that can get throughout the area of operations exceptionally quickly but also have the terminal area of flexibility to be able to land anywhere in that area,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, vice commander of SOCOM, told the DARPA Forward conference in Atlanta. “It’s important to us, especially as we start talking about those contested environments where our airmen, soldiers, sailors, and Marines will be under constant threat. It will be important for us to have that ability to move them quickly or resupply them or get them fires as quickly as possible from something like a High-Speed VTOL asset.”

High-Speed VTOL “makes us almost airfield agnostic,” he said. “Not only is the Indo-Pacific area large, there’s not a lot of airfields, and our adversaries realize that so the more we can not rely on those airfields to prosecute our missions will be exceptionally important.”

Last month, Bell [TXT] said that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has joined its team to develop HSVTOL (Defense Daily, Sept. 19).

SNC is to help design and develop mission systems for Bell’s HSVTOL variants.

Bell is one of 11 firms working on the HSVTOL program led by the Air Force’s AFWERX innovation arm, the Air Force Research Laboratory and SOCOM (Defense Daily, Feb. 17). The other HSVTOL companies are Jaunt Air MobilityValkyrie Systems AerospaceJetoptera, Inc.VerdeGoAeroTranscend AirPiasecki Aircraft American Aerospace Technologies, Inc.Astro Aerospace Ltd.Continuum Dynamics, Inc. and Whisper Aero.

Among HSVTOL’s main aims are the insertion and extraction of special operations forces and equipment; personnel recovery; aeromedical evacuation; and tactical mobility.

On Oct. 26, Bauernfeind said that Army Gen. Bryan Fenton, the new head of SOCOM, “has put a mark on the wall where we should be about 60 percent ‘integrated deterrence,’ 20 percent counter VEO [violent extremist organizations], and 20 percent crisis response, as we move forward.”

“That’s helping us see what are the items that we are going to need–the equipment; the tactics, techniques, and procedures; the software; the relationships–to be successful,” Bauernfeind said. “The primary two [counterterrorism and crisis response] we’ve been pretty good at. Integrated deterrence is going to take us back a bit to our roots because that’s what Special Operations [Command] was born in–great power competition and strategic deterrence.”

SOCOM is shifting funds from Africa/the Middle East to China and Russia–both in operations and planned modernization.

“We have to start to pivot those [counterterrorism] forces to that 60 percent ‘integrated deterrence,'” Bauernfeind said. “When you looked at our operational activities prior to 2018, it was probably 90 percent counter violent extremist organizations and five percent against great power competition. If you look at it just in the last three years, that has come up. In FY 22, about 30 percent of our operational activities are against great power competition. In FY 23, that’ll go up to 50 percent, and it’s not just the operations, but the number of forces forward deployed because, to win, you have to be forward to train and campaign with our allies and partners.”

The National Defense Strategy (NDS) of 2018 and this year’s NDS focus on China and Russia.