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Sustaining CSAR Capabilities

A photo of aircraft flying

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk and A-10 Thunderbolt II fly over Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. The HH-60 trained with A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and an HC-130J Combat King II to execute a simulated personnel recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of aircraft flying

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk and A-10 Thunderbolt II fly over Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. The HH-60 trained with A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and an HC-130J Combat King II to execute a simulated personnel recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of an aircraft flying

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. The A-10 aided in a simulated personnel recovery while also fighting off simulated opposition forces as part of a combat search and rescue training event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of an ATV driving

A side-by-side all-terrain vehicle drives down a dirt road at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. The ATV was used by Airmen that were acting as opposition forces during a combat search and rescue training event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of an aircraft flying

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk flies over Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. The HH-60 executed a simulated personnel recovery while also fighting off simulated opposition forces as part of a combat search and rescue training event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of an Airman acting as an opposing force

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tyler Engle, 563rd Aerial Delivery Unit air transportation troop, points a missile-to-air cannon towards aircraft during a training event at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. Engle tried to target aircraft as an acting opposing force during a combat search and rescue training event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of an ATV driving

A side-by-side all-terrain vehicle drives down a dirt road at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. The ATV was used by Airmen that were acting as opposition forces during a combat search and rescue training event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

A photo of an Airman acting as an opposing force

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Sheley, 563rd Operational Support Squadron loadmaster, listens to aircraft communications during a training event at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, March 26, 2020. Sheley tried to interfere with pilot communications as an acting opposing force during a combat search and rescue training event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

TUCSON, Ariz. --

Airmen from the 355th Wing executed a combat search and rescue task force exercise at Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge, Tucson, Arizona, March 26, 2020.

The exercise, organized by the 563rd and 355th Operations Support Squadrons, included assets from different agencies and units across the wing. The training forced two HH-60G Pave Hawks, four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and an HC-130J Combat King II to overcome internal and external hurdles to complete the objective of executing a simulated personnel recovery.

“This was an integrated CSAR exercise including the triad of rescue aircraft within the 355th Wing,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Henry Moreno, 355th OSS Weapons and Tactics Flight commander. “This was designed to put all of our aircraft together to work through a tactical problem and execute with the highest possible solution rate.”

All aircraft faced various challenges to complete the training objective. This included addressing and defeating simulated opposition forces.

“Anytime that we can get simulated forces to help us, it’s very beneficial to our training,” said Capt. Andre Chun, 55th Rescue Squadron instructor pilot. “There are a lot of things that we could potentially face that are hard to simulate that those forces provided for us. The real life survivor, for instance, gave us real time feedback on what we were doing right and wrong. We also got the opportunity to communicate with the A-10s in order to take out simulated threats as well, giving us very realistic scenarios.”

Training in different scenarios with a variety of challenges, including simulated surface to air missile systems and compromised communications, while integrating with other airframes ensures lethality and readiness for aircraft and aircrew.

“The scenario was designed to challenge the crews to analyze and solve a tactical problem, forcing them to execute multiple recoveries in a contested environment,” said Moreno. “Regardless of what is going on in the world, we must retain our lethality and this gave us an opportunity to ensure that we continue to put the best foot forward.”

The 355th Wing continues to build upon and execute the Dynamic Wing, which requires maintaining a state of high-end readiness to deploy to an austere, contested location at a moment’s notice and overpower any potential threat or adversary that may arise.

“We are in the midst of these trying times that hold a lot of uncertainties, whether it be the adversaries we know traditionally or new, unseen adversaries such as COVID-19,” said Chun. “This training is important because we showed that even within the parameters and restrictions from the Department of Defense, we are still able to execute at the highest level and accomplish the CSAR mission. This proves how we, as an Air Force and entire DoD, are still ready to execute the mission at any time in any place.”    

This training is just one example of the wing’s ability to project combat airpower anywhere in the world at any time, regardless of outside influences and factors.