Rotary SAR in Cahoots

Air Force and Army helicopter forces deployed to Bagram AB, Afghanistan flew their first joint combat search and rescue training mission recently, capping the joint work they have been doing in aeromedical evacuation. The mission required months of planning and briefings, even a “dry run” and familiarization flight in the Army AH-64 Apache simulator, said Air Force Lt. Col. John Trumpfheller, 33rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander. “The intent of the flight is to validate standard operating procedures for the [USAF] HH-60 and AH-64 to operate together,” he said and added, “We are practicing recovering isolated personnel while the Apache suppresses any threat in and around the isolated personnel.” The HH-60s have their own firepower, two 50-caliber machine guns, but Trumpfheller said adding the Apache weapons to the mix provides that extra measure of coverage. The training, he said, enabled the two forces to coordinate “who covers what areas and how we are going to employ weapons from both.” (Bagram report by SSgt. Rachel Martinez)