Air Force Active Duty members assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base along with members from the Air and Army National Guard, put their search and rescue skills to the test during a Combat Search and Rescue exercise in the rocky terrain of Arizona’s west desert April 29.
Military personnel from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) along with 162nd Fighter Wing, 56th Fighter Wing, 943rd Rescue Group, U.S. Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, Utah Air National Guard 151st Air Refueling Wing and the 1-285th Attack and Reconnaissance Battalion joined forces to rescue 3 downed F-16 pilots South West of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
The main objective of this exercise was to effectively integrate communications across joint platforms to authenticate, locate and protect isolated personnel while successfully extracting them.
“The training that took place was very vital because although we all hope that we never have to get the call to go out and find someone who isn’t in the best of situations if the call does come we need to be able to do so swift and accurately,” said Maj. Sean Hall, Aide to the commander of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).
These scenario included multiple of aircraft such as the E-3 Sentry, EC-130H, F-16’s, A-10’s, HH-60’sand AH-64’s all with different missions sets that when combined together bring air superiority.
“Having all of the support from the different aircraft that participated was amazing and very important. It also made the exercise more realistic which gives us a better quality of training,” said Hall.
On the ground, the stranded pilots were able to sharpen their skills in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, better known as SERE, until help arrived from the air.
“As a pilot the scenario that I was given of a downed F-16 pilot enabled me to incorporate the survival and evasion techniques that you receive in training,” said Maj. John Reed, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) executive officer.
AH-64 Apaches, hovered above in search of the missing pilot while ensuring there were no enemy personnel on the ground while UH-60 Black Hawks touched down to rescue the pilot. F-16s flown by Air National Guardsmen from the 162nd FW provided cover from above.
“The overall exercise was a total success far succeeding what we originally planned to learn,” added Hall.