55th RS completes target practice

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A trackless moving-target vehicle is shot at by U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawks at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Gila Bend, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. The 55th Rescue Squadron conducted their Phase Training Program where HH-60G pilots and aircrew trained on total helicopter combat readiness. This was the first time an HH-60G in the Air Force’s inventory trained with live fire attacks against a moving target. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)
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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 U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk lands during a training scenario at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Gila Bend, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. The 55th RQS went through their fourth iteration of the Phase Training Program where they employed live fire attack training on a moving target. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)

“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.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk shoots at a trackless moving-target vehicle at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Gila Bend, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. The 55th Rescue Squadron is conducting their Phase Training Program where HH-60G pilots and aircrew train on total helicopter combat readiness. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)

“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.
 

Airman 1st Class Kinga Hudson, 55th Rescue Squadron flight engineer, conducts pre-flight checks on an HH-60G Pave Hawk for training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. The Phase Training Program was developed by the 55th RQS to train HH-60 pilots and aircrew on total helicopter combat readiness. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)

 
Airman 1st Class Kinga Hudson, 55th Rescue Squadron flight engineer, prepares ammunition cans to load into a .50 caliber machine gun on an HH-60G Pave Hawk at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers)

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