Maneuvering into readiness

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A Russian Mi-24 Hind gunship flies over Ryan Airfield, Ariz., Nov. 20, 2019. The Mi-24 joined the 55th Rescue Squadron to work on basic helicopter maneuvering and combat readiness in the fourth iteration of the 55th RQS phase training program. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

The 55th Rescue Squadron held the fourth iteration of their Phase Training Program out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 19-21, 2019.

The 55th RQS Phase Training Program is a constantly developing program that focuses on the squadron’s readiness to deploy to an austere and contested location and conduct military operations. This iteration was focused on basic helicopter maneuvering against Russian Mi-24 Hind gunships.

“This is the first time this training has been done outside of the weapons school at Nellis [AFB],” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kurt Wallin, 55th RQS flight commander. “This is a big step we’ve taken to increase our training capabilities since it is the first time we have trained outside of HH-60G [Pave Hawk] versus HH-60G. This training lets us see the capabilities of other aircraft against our own, and improve our own tactics and procedures.”

Two Mi-24s were brought in to give more diverse and realistic simulation for the 55th RQS pilots and aircrews.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk sits next to a Russian MI-24 Hind gunship in the 55th Rescue Squadron hangar at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 18, 2019. The 55th RQS trained with the MI-24s to prepare for helicopter to helicopter combat. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

“Our mission statement, ‘these things we do, that others may live’, shows that we have to be capable to deploy anywhere in the world against any threat,” said Staff Sgt. Stefen Adams, 55th RQS special mission aviator. “This is why this will be beneficial for us because this is the foundation as we continue to build on our training and broaden our efforts to what may come instead of what we have been focused on the last few years.”

The phase training program continues to develop to match the needs of the global climate of war by pushing and testing the capabilities of the HH-60G and staying current on all qualifications while being able to stay at Davis-Monthan to do it.

“The 55th started this training program to set the expectation for how we are going to do business from now on,” said Wallin. “We want to increase our capabilities going forward to prepare us to fight in a near-peer environment, which is what General Goldfein has directed us to do and to execute the mission he has set for us.”

Airmen from the 55th Rescue Squadron are briefed on the Mi-24s capabilities and limitations at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 18, 2019. Airmen were briefed as the 55th RQS used these helicopters to train for helicopter to helicopter combat. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)