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Combating common enemies

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by Airman 1st Class Trevor T. McBride
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/13/2015 - HINDERCLAY, England – Picture this.

As the aircrew of a military aircraft, you are in an unfortunate situation where you are forced to eject and survive behind enemy lines.

To do so, you have to evade and communicate with the appropriate personnel to be rescued under enemy fire. Training for this type of situation in a coalition capacity, both the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force practiced in the hilly terrain of Hinderclay, March 5.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Bartels, 31 Squadron RAF exchange pilot, spoke about the importance of combat search and rescue, or CSAR, and specifically the role of the RAF Tornado GR-4 in on-scene command.

“We train on each aspect of the scenario,” Bartels said. “From the fighter jet speeding to find us, to the ground movements, to the helicopter coming in to rescue the survivors, the mission can be extremely complex and when you add in coalition partners and their unique capabilities, it makes us all better.”

The CSAR scenario included GR-4 pilots, RAF Regiment personnel and a U.S. HH-60G Pave Hawk aircrew, assigned to RAF Lakenheath. Working together, the allies suppressed simulated enemies and made a successful recovery.

“The Tornado pilots practice their escape and evasion, while we [joint terminal attack controllers] start communication with them, as well as the U.S. Air Force helicopter, and begin to neutralize targets,” said Flt. Sgt. Wayne Lovejoy, RAF Regiment JTAC. “The U.S. Air Force is essential in today’s operating environment because it enhances our interoperability to allow us to get better as a single force.”

As well as building a force partnership, Bartels believes the training raised the level of local community partnership with British neighbors.

“We were able to have the support of the landowner’s property, so this not only builds a positive view for him, but also for all his friends and peers in the local community to talk about and understand why it’s necessary to do the training,” Bartels stated.

Andrew Aves stated that about 15 years ago was the first time the RAF asked to use his land for training with Chinook helicopters, and, from there, it has evolved to using it for CAS exercises.

“The U.S. Air Force first got involved with my land a few days ago,” Aves laughed. “But I do feel that the American pilots benefitted from using somewhere different, with a change in landscape, to practice with the RAF.”

Bartels added that the location allows the local community to understand why the jet noise they may hear is important and essential to the mission.

“Today’s training is a great example of the challenges of what we face and how to practice these vital missions prior to using them,” stated RAF Wing Commander James Freeborough, 31 Squadron commander.

Bartels concluded that he was excited to see everything come together so smoothly.

“From what I’ve heard from the RAF guys talking, today’s training was a huge success and is indicative of our capacity to create high impact low cost training on a daily basis in East Anglia,” Bartels concluded.


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