Three U.S. Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters participated in joint training with A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons and Combat Search and Rescue units here September 12-20.
The MH-60S, similar to the Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk, traveled from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. along with 20 flight crew members and nearly 30 maintainers.
The training, which took place in southern Arizona’s military training ranges, gave the units a chance to test their skills and strengthen joint operations between the military services.
“The military, as a whole, is big on joint operations. Same team, same fight,” said Lieutenant Nicholas Hargraves, HSC-23 tactics officer.
The MH-60S conducted training in two of their primary mission areas: special operations support and personnel rescue, also known as combat search and rescue.
“We do this training daily at home, but being able to train here with the A-10, it adds realism to it,” said Commander Jennifer Wilderman, HSC-23 commanding officer. “It gives us the training that we would expect to see in theater. It enhances our training and our experience level.”
During simulations, a downed pilot gives coordinates of his location to an A-10 pilot. The A-10 pilot flies near the coordinates ensuring a safe path for the MH-60S, while providing high-air communications and directions, as well as protection from enemy attacks. Once the MH-60S arrived, pararescue jumpers fast rope to the ground to access the situation. While the pararescue jumpers clear the area and provide medical assistance to an injured pilot, the MH-60S and A-10 keep watch from above. The downed pilots and pararescue jumpers are hoisted into the MH-60S and escorted back to base by the A-10.
“It helps us immensely because we come out and make sure we are standardized and working jointly with the Air Force,” Wilderman said. “When we get called to action while in theater, we can do it seamlessly and without too much effort because we all understand the same terms and we all use the same techniques.”