The 55th Rescue Squadron completed the fourth iteration of their Phase Training Program at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Gila Bend, Ariz., Jan. 13-17, 2020.
The Phase Training Program was developed by the 55th RQS to train HH-60G Pave Hawk pilots and aircrew on all-around helicopter combat readiness. This iteration focused on terminal employment.
“The training opportunity was invaluable and it tested everyone’s skill and resolve.” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Link, 55th RQS assistant director of operations and HH-60 pilot. “It allows the squadron, as a whole, to focus training efforts towards a specific mission set. The terminal environment phase focused on creating a dynamic objective area, forcing crews to continuously evaluate the changing situation and tactically employ their formations in order to defeat multiple threats and rescue live survivors.”
The 55th RQS used a trackless Moving Vehicle Target, a mobile platform with hit detection, for target practice in their training scenario.
“A key piece during this phase was the MVT,” Link said. “These moving targets raised the complexity bar and tested crews on their air-to-ground gunnery skills and factor threat analysis. Having a moving battle space is more realistic and forced everyone to continually evaluate the situation in order to eliminate the factor threat and rescue the survivor.”
This was the first time any HH-60G Pave Hawk in the Air Force’s inventory has ever employed live fire attacks on a moving target during a training exercise. Similar to a scored range, the MVTs are able to register .50 caliber machine gun hits, allowing the operators to determine if the vehicle was destroyed or have it continue driving towards the simulated survivors until the hit criteria is met.
“The advantage of using the Moving Vehicle Targets is that it gave us a more realistic and dynamic environment to react to,” said Staff Sgt. Alonso Gudino, 55th RQS special mission aviator. “The ability of a target to pop-up provides us with a realistic threat scenario, and thus the ability to train against this type of threat, allowing us to prepare for deployment.”
Davis-Monthan Airmen are committed to high-end readiness, and the 55th RQS is no exception. Their continual development to enhance the squadron’s ability to rapidly deploy to any austere and contested location is evident through the Phase Training Program. With each iteration, they learn new ways to conduct combat search and rescue operations more effectively and efficiently in the ever-changing climate of war.