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Contested Coastal Rescue Training

A photo of a helicopter taking off.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk II assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron takes off from Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California, Nov. 4, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training to improve rescue capabilities not only in austere environments, but also over contentious coastal areas. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of a special missions aviator.

Senior Airman Mitchell Miller, 55th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, performs pre-flight checks on a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk II at Naval Air Station North Island, California, Nov. 3, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training with the 48th RQS to enhance their integrated rescue skillset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of an Airman inspecting a gun.

An Airman assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron inspects a gun on a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk II at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California, Nov. 4, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training to enhance their combat search and rescue capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of a helicopter.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk II assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron flies over the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 3, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training at Naval Air Station North Island, California, from Nov. 1-14 to enhance their over-water rescue capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of a pararescueman.

A pararescueman assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron prepares to drop from an HH-60G Pave Hawk II into the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 3, 2020. The 48th RQS executed drop and rescue procedures during the day and night while in contested coastal scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of a special missions aviator Airman.

Senior Airman Mitchell Miller, 55th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, helps a pararescueman from the 48th RQS into an HH-60G Pave Hawk II over the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 3, 2020. The 55th and 48th RQS executed several rescue procedures in and over water to enhance their skillsets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of an Airman helping a PJ.

Senior Airman Mitchell Miller, 55th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, helps a pararescueman from the 48th RQS into an HH-60G Pave Hawk II over the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 3, 2020. The 55th and 48th RQS executed several rescue procedures in and over water to enhance their skillsets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of an Airman shooting a gun.

An Airman assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron shoots a gun on a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk II off the coast of Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California, Nov. 4, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training at NASNI from Nov. 1-14 to enhance their over-water rescue capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of an Airman reloading a gun.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dakota Dennis, 55th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, reloads a gun on an HH-60G Pave Hawk II on the Coronado Islands, California, Nov. 4, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training, to include shooting moving targets at low altitudes, to improve weapons tactics in contentious coastal areas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

A photo of a helicopter.
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A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk II assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron flies over the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 4, 2020. The 55th RQS completed contested maritime training at Naval Air Station North Island, California, from Nov. 1-14 to enhance their over-water rescue capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.— --

The 48th and 55th Rescue Squadrons completed contested maritime training off the coast of California, Nov. 1-14, 2020.

The training included day and night operations in which they executed a series of rescue procedures over the Pacific Ocean to enhance overall rescue capabilities, not only on land but also over and in water.

“We shot moving targets towed behind a boat while flying above the ocean,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Dylan Foley, 55th RQS pilot. “Our crews applied weapons tactics to analyze how we can get better at taking opposing forces out while protecting the survivor we are picking up. We also focused on using search and signaling devices such as a radios, mirrors, flares and smokes to determine how effective they are based on different ranges and altitudes of the aircraft.”

Pararescuemen from the 48th RQS operated from the water and in the air, as well as a survival, escape, resistance and evasion personnel who simulated a survivor in an unknown location.

“Our operations began with a SERE Airman in a one-man life raft who used the different signaling devices a downed pilot would have,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dakota Dennis, 55th RQS special missions aviator. “We then deployed pararescuemen out of our aircraft into the water and brought them back up with the survivor.”

Contested maritime training improves the readiness of the 48th and 55th RQS by equipping them with the experience they need to perform over-water rescues, despite the conditions and oppositions.

“This training gives us a realistic experience in maritime operations for when we rescue a downed pilot,” Dennis said. “It prepares us to go on real-world rescues due to the fact that we simulate opposing a real-world adversary that is moving against our isolated survivor in the water. Our mission is to eliminate that threat, pick him up and return him to friendly forces.”

Staying well-trained gives the 563rd Rescue Group, which includes the 48th and 55th RQS, the skills to respond effectively when the call for help comes.

“Our overall mission is combat search and rescue,” Foley said. “We’re supporting every other aviator in the air. They have the confidence that, should anything go wrong with their mission, we have the ability to effectively pick them up and return them to safety.”

The 563rd Rescue Group’s capabilities give a safety net pilots can rely on when they are in harm’s way.

“Ultimately the Air Force’s mission is to hold air superiority,” said Dennis. “When stuff goes wrong or a pilot gets shot down, knowing that they have dedicated units out there to come get them boosts morale and continues the mission.”

The 563rd RQG is always prepared to rescue. By completing contested maritime training, they significantly improved their skills to respond to those missions effectively, despite the adversaries, so that others may live.