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"Exercise, exercise, exercise, Plane down!"

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kris Levasseur
  • 48 FW Public Affairs
The 56th Rescue Squadron along with the Royal Air Force, took part in RAF Lakenheath's Large Force Exercise on the bombing range at RAF Donna Nook in Lincolnshire on Dec. 15.

The exercise incorporated the 56th RQS into operations at RAF Lakenheath. It was the first exercise to employ all three major aircraft in Lakenheath's arsenal, as well as the RAF's Eurofighter Typhoon. The F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-15C Eagle and the newest edition, the HH-60G Pave Hawk, worked along side the Eurofighter Typhoon in a large, joint, coalition exercise.

For the combat search and rescue portion of the exercise, an F-15E simulated crashing behind enemy lines, leaving 1st Lt. Ryan Watson, 494th Fighter Squadron F-15E pilot, and 1st Lt. Joel Perlin, 494th FS weapons systems officer, stranded and requiring evacuation and medical attention.

After properly camouflaging themselves, they found a secure location to lay low until help arrived, said Lieutenant Watson.

"We spent a simulated day under cover before Lieutenant Perlin radioed in for combat search and rescue assistance," said Lieutenant Watson. The security checks they performed made sure the pararesue personnel knew who they were.

"Soon after verifying our identities, the Pave Hawk could be heard flying over head," said Lieutenant Perlin.

During the mission, F-15Es and the F-15Cs flew together as team Blue Air, fighting against team Red Air. RAF fighters, team Red Air, acted as enemy aircraft during the exercise. The exercise was the largest single involvement for the Typhoons to date, according to a U.S. Air Force planner at RAF High Wycombe.

With F-15s providing cover overhead, the HH-60G, piloted by Maj. Mark Deaton, 56th RQS, was guided to a helicopter pad using a signal strobe and radio assistance from the downed pilots.

Immediately after landing, pararescuers climbed out of the HH-60G and moved towards the signal strobe. After securing the downed pilots, the pararescuers verified their identification, assessed the pilots for injury and immediately took them on board the helicopter. Due to weather conditions, the team was unable to take off immediately.

During the weather delay, pararescuers performed simulated emergency medical care on the downed pilot and WSO. Once the HH-60G was prepared to evacuate the downed Airmen, F15Es broke off from the air-to-air fighting to escort the helicopter back to RAF Lakenheath.

"The experience showed us aircrews we can full rely on the training and expertise of the 56th RQS," said Lieutenant Perlin.

According to Lieutenant Watson, the integrated training was helpful to mission success.

"You never know when you'll be in a situation like this," he added.