The 56th Rescue Squadron, part of the 48th Operations Group, 48th Fighter Wing of the US Air Force based at RAF Lakenheath, UK, has received its newly modified HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which have been modified to include a retractable in-flight refuelling probe, internal auxiliary fuel tanks and a modular rescue hoist designed for a multitude of environments, thus turning the Black Hawk in to the Pave Hawk.
“Our primary mission is to provide Combat Search and Rescue capability and personnel recovery to any asset that needs our support,” said a 56th RQS flight commander. “This also gets expanded to civilian search and rescue operations, as well as humanitarian needs operations.”
“We have asked a bunch of these airframes, from the fine-grit sand storms of Iraq to the rugged mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush” said a 56th RQS gunner. “When we’ve needed them to perform, they’ve answered the call.”
“The uniqueness about the Pave Hawk is that we launch in a formation that has 14 crew members involved,” the flight commander said. “[The crew] on both aircraft have a specific function or duty in order to ensure mission success, and the Guardian Angel team provides the unique medical capability to give any survivor we pick up a fighting chance at life.”
The 56th RQS is set to move to Aviano Air Base, Italy, in 2018, where they will continue their CSAR mission for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.
US Air Force photo/Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield