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Air Force, Navy conduct joint combat search and rescue exercises

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
Members of the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, the 522 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and the Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron two-five completed a series of exercises here to test their integrated force operating capability. 

"This exercise will highlight how each aircraft can contribute to the combat search and rescue mission," said Capt. Frederick V. Cartwright, 20th EBS mission planner B-52 weapons systems officer. "It also allows crews to practice the in-depth planning and coordination required to conduct complicated missions using joint assets not geographically co-located," he said. 

Captain Cartwright explained the exercise consisted of "downed Airmen" while Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft from Kadena Air Force Base, Japan, provided rescue coordination while keeping watch on opposing fighter jets played by the 522 EFS. 

Capt. John Baum, 522 EFS, said adding his squadron's F-16s and the Navy assets allowed for the joint services to see how to best use three very different airframes in order to have a unified efforts against an adversary. 

"The F-16CJ will provide Offensive Counter Air Escort for the Helos," said Captain Baum. "This means that we will detect and kill any 'red' forces that may try to stop the rescue. Also, our scenarios have surface to air missile systems. The (F-16) Wild Weasels will also provide suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) against these SAMS.
Other Andersen assets were involved as well to make the exercise as realistic as possible. 

"Security forces used foot patrols and military working dogs to try and capture the downed Airman," said Captain Cartwright. 

"The 266th Range Squadron used its special electronic equipment to simulate enemy surface-to-air missiles attacking friendly forces," he added. 

All of these opposing forces were pitted against the rescue helicopters and the B-52, which some may find surprising the gargantuan BUFF is well prepared to handle something as delicate as a rescue. 

"The B-52s are serving as overall mission commanders and are ideally suited for CSAR operations," said Captain Cartwright. "They can orbit over survivors for great periods of time and have an advanced communications suite that can be used to coordinate operations across the theater while still maintaining contact with the survivor." 

However, the B-52 isn't becoming just a simple giant antenna any time soon.
"As advanced targeting pods become available to the B-52, crews will be able to visually locate the survivor, monitor the evolving situation and hunt down opposing forces and kill them if they become a problem," Captain Cartwright said. 

This joint effort was lauded by leadership. 

"Pulling this off took great coordination from all the units involved," said Lt. Col. Thomas Hesterman, 20th EBS commander. "Some members from the squadrons deployed here have experienced actual CSAR missions conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. This opportunity allowed us to pass this knowledge on to our younger aircrews. This training will reap major dividends in our continuing War on Terror." 

Fighting falcon pilot Capt. Baum supplied the bottom line concerning the importance of operating in the joint environment. 

"Realistically, we will fall back on this training since you never know when we would have to execute a CSAR if we were at war together," he said. 

The continued rotational bomber presence here continues to enhance regional security, demonstrate U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific and provides integrated training opportunities.

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