Training night and joint CSAR capabilities

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Tech. Sgt. Austin Burke, 55th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk gunner, and Tech. Sgt. Kevin Randall, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist, use communication tools during a combat search and rescue exercise at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Ariz., June 10, 2020. Burke was one of two simulated isolated personnel that were rescued during the exercise. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
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Airmen from across the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., teamed up with U.S. Marines out of Camp Pendleton to execute a combat search and rescue exercise at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, June 10, 2020.

The exercise was executed at night with the intent of conducting a recovery for two simulated isolated personnel.

“Training at night adds an additional consideration for flight leads, as well as aircraft deco friction challenge,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Ashton Peckham, 563rd Operational Support Squadron officer. “The cover of darkness is an ally to rescue forces when properly utilized and training this is beneficial to our Airmen.”

Tech. Sgt. Austin Burke, 55th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk gunner, and Tech. Sgt. Kevin Randall, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist, watch an HH-60 hover during a combat search and rescue exercise at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Ariz., June 10, 2020. Burke was hoisted into the HH-60 as he was one of two simulated isolated personnel that were rescued during the joint force, night exercise. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawks, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and an HC-130J Combat King II participated in this exercise alongside U.S. Marine AH-1 Cobra and UH-1Y Venom helicopters to help ensure the effectiveness of the training. This interoperability between service branches increases mission readiness by simulating what would happen in a real-world scenario downrange.

“The different missions we came to train included a CSAR, close air support, deep air support and combat assault transport missions,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Scott Blyleven, AH-12 Viper pilot. “By being able to come here, learn about other aircraft and continue to train, it increases our abilities and efficiencies downrange.”

Along with aircraft, simulated opposition forces helped create a more realistic, better training scenario by presenting different challenges to the aircrews.

“Opposition forces add challenges to any scenario,” said Peckham. “By presenting the flying crews with two convoys, we can challenge warfighters to engage moving targets. We also utilized a missile-to-air trainer, which stimulates aircraft in a manner that simulates being fired upon. Finally, we engaged the recovery vehicle with an ambush team that attempted to overtake the survivor. Presenting a CSAR training event with several challenges engages different tactics.”

CSAR is critical to the successful execution of our national defense strategy and the mission downrange and these Airmen constantly train in order to build the confidence and knowledge necessary to safely and efficiently execute this mission.

Tech. Sgt. Austin Burke, 55th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk gunner, uses a communication tool during a combat search and rescue exercise at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Ariz., June 10, 2020. Burke was one of two simulated isolated personnel that were rescued during the exercise. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

“Even in these troubled times, the US Air Force stands ready to support our troops and our allies,” said Peckham. “Our CSAR capabilities offer critical support to our front lines as we embody the rescue motto, ‘These things we do that others may live’.”

In the joint execution of this exercise, these Airmen and Marines proved their ability to execute a variety of mission sets that were practiced including close air support, cross-platform communications and other CSAR abilities. Davis-Monthan Airmen continue to sustain the level of high-end readiness that is required of them to ensure the 355th Wing stays ready to wield combat airpower anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk flies over Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Ariz., June 10, 2020. The HH-60 executed a combat search and rescue exercise with help from other Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps airframes. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
Tech. Sgt. Kevin Randall, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist, uses a communication tool during a combat search and rescue exercise at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Ariz., June 10, 2020. Randall helped a simulated isolated personnel get to the rescue area and used a variety of specialized equipment to ensure the success of the training. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)
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