News: Pave Hawks dodge radar threats
Story by Airman 1st Class Trevor McBride
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – In the early morning darkness and below-freezing temperatures of northern England, most people probably wouldn’t be caught outside of their heated homes; however, airmen from the 56th Rescue Squadron and 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aren’t like most people.
In fact, these airmen spent a week in the elements at Royal Air Force Leeming, England, hustling to prepare 56th RQS pilots for electronic warfare training missions over the RAF Spadeadam test range Nov.18-22.
“The training is designed to give aircrew the opportunity to train against real radar threats,” said Maj. Daran Gaus, 56th RQS weapons and tactics chief.
Capt. Sky Jensen, 56th RQS weapons and tactics officer, reflected on the amount of opportunities to participate in electronic warfare training.
“This is my first time in four and a half years of flying helicopters that I have had to chance to do this training,” said Jensen.
“It’s not unheard-of, but oh man, it’s super rare for us,” added Gaus.
Throughout the week, the 56th RQS employed missions and used tactics to engage potential electronic warfare threats.
Jensen said the most exciting part of the training was watching the junior guys learn and understand why they strategize the ways they do.
Gaus praised the work of the support staff that made the 56th RQS mission a success.
“We [pilots] came up here to fight electronic warfare threats, but that doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Gaus. “Our maintainers were tireless in their efforts to provide us aircraft every day.”
Along with 748th AMXS airmen, 56th RQS support, intelligence and aircrew flight equipment personnel all contributed to the exercise.
“Stuff like this would not be possible without the behind-the-scenes work our [56th RQS] support provides,” added Gaus.
One AFE staff member spoke on what his job provides.
According to Staff Sgt. Robert Neal, 56th RQS aircrew flight equipment technician, the behind-the-scenes jobs play important roles.
“For example, I provide fully-functional, serviceable gear for the pilots and aircrew members by providing helmets, survival vests, gunner’s belts, night-vision goggles or any other equipment they would need to train or fly,” said Neal. “Without gear, they can’t fly, so this job keeps flying operations up from an aircrew standpoint.
According to Airmen throughout the 56th RQS, the electronic warfare training proved to enhance the abilities of all the personnel involved.
“The training has better prepared the 56th RQS to maintain their ability to deploy worldwide, and they are prepared to face any future conflicts,” said Jensen.