INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen brought together their respective aircraft to hone their search-and-rescue skills during a training exercise June 18.
The exercise over Miami County challenged both Indiana National Guard branches to discover ways to work together toward the common goal of saving human life.
“We are a joint military, deploy jointly and stay on the leading edge and integration among all the other assets,” said a 122nd Fighter Wing pilot, who wishes to remain anonymous for operational security. “This exercise keeps us up to date and proficient in our training so that if ever called upon, we are more likely to succeed.”
While the Army’s medical recovery team specializes in casualty and medical evacuation flying the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters out of Gary, the Air Force pilots specialize in combat search and rescue through their ability to secure the crash site against hostile enemy threats while flying the A-10C Thunderbolt II out of Fort Wayne.
“A benefit of this training is that it allows us to [simulate] going through a high threat area with enemy contact, evading guns and missiles and maneuvering behind tree lines, hills or physical structures,” said Maj. Robert Jendzio, the UH-60 Black Hawk pilot in command.
In the training scenario, adversaries shot down a fighter jet, and the Indiana Guard’s mission is to safely recover the pilots from the crash site. Attempting to recover personnel in a war zone is challenging and dangerous due to the threat of small arms, ground-to-air missiles, radar systems and other weapons.
The A-10s, one of the military’s best air support assets, neutralized faux enemy ground threats to protect the UH-60 during recovery. Likewise, the Black Hawk’s versatility as a tactical transport helicopter made it perfect for the scenario as a recovery vehicle. Together, the Indiana National Guard’s arsenal includes two aircraft well suited for search-and-rescue missions.
“Some of the only assets in the military trained for combat search and rescue are the A-10s,” said a 122nd Fighter Wing fighter pilot. “We’re there to ensure everyone comes home.”