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Stealth Guardian: Rescue water ops crucial to AF capabilities

  • Published
  • By Capt. Korey Fratini
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 23rd Wing and the 325th Fighter Wing were put to the test in the waters off the coast of Panama City, Florida, during daytime water rescue operations training in conjunction with exercise Stealth Guardian August 7 through 8.


Stealth Guardian is designed to test aircrews with real-world exercise scenarios similar to a deployed or contingency environment.


During the water rescue operations training, aircrew from the 41st Rescue Squadron, pararescuemen from the 38th RQS, survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists, and F-22 Raptor pilots from the 325th FW participated in the training.


“It’s a great opportunity to work with individuals we don’t normally work with on a day-to-day basis,” said Capt. Tim Wiser, 41st RQS HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot. “Exposing F-22 operators to the Air Force rescue mission increases the probability for success in any potential real world recovery.”


Today’s wartime environment requires Air Force rescue teams to be prepared to operate in a variety of austere environments including both over land and water. It is not just the HH-60G crews that are required to understand how to fly in these different scenarios but the pararescuemen must also demonstrate and practice their capabilities.


“Being able to integrate part task training into Exercise Stealth Guardian is a great way to give our Airmen an opportunity to hone and advance different skillsets,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Aupke, 347th Operations Support Squadron director of operations. “They must know how to conduct rescue and personnel recovery missions in a variety of locations. The skillsets for a land versus a water recovery are different and it’s important for us to practice those skills constantly.”


To enhance the training for Airmen from the 23rd Wing, the SERE specialists and F-22 pilots acted as downed aircrew. Additionally, they used boats and other watercraft to complicate the scenario and increase the difficulty of the situation.


With the Air Force operating across the globe, Wiser says it is imperative that rescue crews be able to answer the call anytime in any place. This training was crucial to developing skills and enhancing those capabilities to those rescue teams.