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Alaska Air Guard Rescue Triad Demonstrates Capabilities

  • Published
  • By Alejandro Pena,
  • Alaska National Guard

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons conducted a rescue capabilities exercise June 25.

The training at Malemute Drop Zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, showcased search and rescue, high-altitude parachute drops, in-flight refueling, emergency medical response, personnel recovery and recovery hoist.

Participants included HH-60G Pave Hawk aircrew of the 210th RQS, HC-130J Combat King II aircrew of the 211th RQS, and pararescuemen (PJs), and combat rescue officers (CROs) of the 212th RQS.

The three squadrons compose the 176th Wing’s Rescue Triad and are among the busiest search and rescue units in the world.

CROs, PJs, and search, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists — known collectively as Guardian Angels — are experts in SAR/PR operations and trained to infiltrate behind enemy lines to extract isolated U.S. and allied personnel.

The Pave Hawk aircrew is trained to use the helicopter’s sensor suite to find isolated personnel. They can insert Guardian Angels by landing or using the HH-60’s rescue hoist.

The HH-60 is the 176th Wing’s primary extraction platform since the all-weather helicopter can land in various remote locations, and the crew can employ the rescue hoist when landing is impossible. To extend the range of the Pave Hawk, the HC-130 deploys refueling drogues from pods underneath the wings to refuel the helicopter in flight.

The Combat King aircrew uses the propeller-driven aircraft’s advanced avionics to find people at higher altitudes and greater speeds than the HH-60. It can insert Guardian Angels by low- or high-altitude parachute drops.

While the Rescue Triad’s military mission supports the 11th Air Force Alaska NORAD Region, it also provides Alaska with specialized civil SAR capabilities. Alaska is the largest U.S. state by area, with more total area than the next three largest states — Texas, California and Montana — combined. In addition, Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles of shoreline — more than all the lower 48 U.S. combined. Continuous training in Alaska’s vast and austere locations hones the Rescue Triad’s specialized skill set.