Tag: Air National Guard

A-10Cs Refueled And Rearmed For The First Time On A U.S. Highway During Northern Agility Exercise

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A-10Cs Refueled And Rearmed For The First Time On A U.S

The A-10Cs were refueled and rearmed during Northern Agility 22-1 that demonstrated operations in austere environments under the U.S. Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine through different scenarios.

About a year after the first exercise of this kind, the U.S. Air Force performed a new exercise on a state highway on June 19, 2022. The event was part of the larger Northern Agility 22-1 exercise held by the Air National Guard, Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserves in Michigan to demonstrate the Agile Combat Employment doctrine and prepare aircrews for operations in austere environments.

A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, MC-12W Liberties, C-145 Combat Coyotes, U-28A Dracos and C-146A Wolfhounds were involved in the highway operations, which saw them landing on a closed 9,000-foot section of Michigan highway M-28, perform Integrated Combat Turns and takeoff again. This is the first time that ICTs, which enable the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet, have ever been conducted on a public highway in the U.S., according to the ANG press release.

“Northern Agility 22-1 is an historic exercise that supports the Air Force’s directive to ‘accelerate change or lose,’ as well as the ability of our Airmen to generate combat power anytime, anywhere.” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, assistant adjutant general and commander of the Michigan Air National Guard. “Michigan is a champion for Agile Combat Employment, so when it comes to leveraging our state’s unique partnerships, training environment and resources to ensure the Joint Force stays one step ahead of our adversaries, today was a huge success.”

The temporary landing zone, which was active for about six hours, is one of several progressive training scenarios held during Northern Agility 22-1 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The landing zone was named “Hawk LZ” in honor of F-16 pilot Maj. Durwood “Hawk” Jones from the Wisconsin ANG’s 115th Fighter Wing, who lost his life in a training accident in Michigan in 2020.

Northern Agility 22-1 kicked off on June 27 when KC-135 aircraft from the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, arrived at Sawyer International Airport and performed wet-wing defuel operations in preparation for the exercise. A wet-wing defuel transfers fuel from the wings of an aircraft to another expeditionary fuel bladder or a fuel truck while the engines are still running. This way, a refueling aircraft can land in an austere environment, offload fuel using the aircraft pumps and take off with minimal time on the ground.

The highway operations were initially planned for June 28, however they had to be postponed because of the weather conditions. After the aircraft landed, contrary to last year’s exercise, they received fuel and inert weapons as part of the Integrated Combat Turns, before taking off again for their training missions. The ICTs enabled the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet to reduce the aircrew’s ground time and get them back into the air, so they could deliver air power anytime, anywhere to complicate an adversary’s decision making.

“What we’re doing here is trying to do everything we can do to stay one step from our adversaries,” Northern Agility 22-1 Exercise Director Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski said to journalists. “If we can generate combat airpower from a public highway, we can do it from almost anywhere. If we can operate from a highway, we are very unpredictable and very agile. That’s what we demonstrated here today where you saw the first integrated combat turns for modern combat aircraft on a public highway.”

The Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center teamed with industry partners during Northern Agility 22-1 to demonstrate numerous technologies for augmented reality to enhance the multi-capable Airman concept, rapid integration of the Command & Control ecosystem, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Advanced Threat Detection and Visualization and other capabilities, said the press release. In fact, in some of the videos released to the public, an Airman is seen working on the A-10s countermeasures dispensers while wearing an Augmented Reality headset.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35s On Their Way To Germany To Support NATO In Eastern Europe

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Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35s On Their Way To Germany To Support NATO In Eastern Europe
A VT ANG F-35A prepares for take off to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, on May 2, 2022. Note the RCS enhancers fitted to the aircraft.

F-35A Lightning II fifth generation aircraft from the Vermont Air National Guard departed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

At least eight F-35A stealth aircraft, belonging to the 158th Fighter Wing of the U.S. Air Force are currently deploying to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to support Enhanced Air Policing mission on NATO’s Eastern Flank. The aircraft launched from their base at Burlington ANGB, Vermont, early on May 2, 2022.

Supported by at least four tankers, the “Green Mountain Boys” of the 158th FW are due replace the F-35A jets belonging to the 388th FW and 419th FW  from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, that have been operating out of Spangdahlem since Feb. 16, 2022. In the beginning, the VT ANG will not completely replace the Hill AFB’s F-35s but they will complement the Hill AFB F-35s as the Lightning II jets of the various active, ANG and Reserve’s jets are expected to operate together from the German base for some weeks.

The images of the F-35As launching from Burlington ANGB, show that the aircraft were fitted with their RCS Enhancers/Radar Reflectors/Luneburg Lenses (as per normal procedure for ferry flights). It will be interesting to understand whether they will operate in “stealth mode” (without radar reflectors/Luneburg lenses) during their patrols over Eastern Europe, as done by the Hill’s F-35s.

<img data-attachment-id="79506" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/05/02/vt-ang-f-35-to-spangdahlem/upcoming-april-f-35-night-flying-operations/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/VT-ANG-deploying-to-Spang-2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,572" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"5","credit":"158th Fighter Wing","camera":"NIKON D5","caption":"An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, prepares for launch during routine flying operations at the Vermont Air National Guard base, South Burlington, Vermont, Sept. 23, 2020. The Vermont Air National Guard will begin three weeks of night flying operations starting Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jana Somero)","created_timestamp":"1600833600","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"70","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"5","title":"Upcoming April F-35 Night Flying Operations","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Upcoming April F-35 Night Flying Operations" data-image-description data-image-caption="

File photo of an F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, prepares for launch during routine flying operations at the Vermont Air National Guard base, South Burlington, Vermont, (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jana Somero)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-5.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-2.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79506″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-2.jpg” alt=”Vermont F-35″ width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-5.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-6.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-7.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/VT-ANG-deploying-to-Spang-2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

File photo of an F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, prepares for launch during routine flying operations at the Vermont Air National Guard base, South Burlington, Vermont, (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jana Somero)

Airmen from the 158th FW started deploying to Europe aboard an Omni Air International B-767 on Apr. 29, 2022.

“We are proud to send our Airmen to support the collective defense of our allies and partners,” said Army Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the adjutant general of Vermont in a public release. “This deployment demonstrates some of the strategic capabilities the Vermont Air National Guard can provide to the nation when needed.”

These regular deployments, part of a series of standard U.S. rotations in the European Area of Operations, are part of the U.S. commitment to training and interoperability with our European allies.

“Being called upon only four months out of conversion to an operational F-35 fighter wing is a testament to our team, their professionalism, commitment and proven capabilities,” said Air Force Col. David Shevchik, commander of the 158th Fighter Wing. “It is when we are needed most that we are at our best. The Green Mountain Boys are ready and proud to answer this call, and we’re grateful for the support of our families, employers and communities.”

The one to Europe amidst growing tensions with Russia following the invasion Ukraine, is the first Vermont Air National Guard deployment in 6 years. Previously, flying the F-16 “Viper” (as the aircraft is dubbed in the fighter pilots community) the Wing took part in several deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism. During 9/11, the Vermont Air National Guard rapidly mobilized to provide area security patrols over New York City, a mission they maintained for over 120 consecutive days. This short-term deployment is conducted in full coordination with host nations and NATO military authorities, and although temporary in nature, they are prudent measures to increase readiness and enhance NATOs collective defense during this period of uncertainty.

The 158th Fighter Wing ceased their F-16C/D Block 30 operations on Apr. 6, 2019, after flying the jet for 33 years. The first F-35A in 158th FW markings (AF17-5265) made its first flight from Lockheed Martin Ft. Worth facility, Texas, on Jul. 31, 2019. The first two ANG F-35A aircraft landed at their home in Burlington ANGB, Vermont, on Sept. 19, 2019.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

Leonardo’s BriteCloud Cleared To Begin Foreign Comparative Testing In The U.S.

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An artistic depiction of the BriteCloud 218 variant released by a F-16C Fighting Falcon. (Photo: Leonardo)

The Expendable Active Decoy will be tested on US F-16s after the recent tests on Italian Tornados and Danish F-16s.

The U.S. Air Force’s Seek Eagle Office has approved Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 Expendable Active Decoy to be flown on Air National Guard F-16C Block 30 aircraft as part of the Defense Department’s Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program. The operational testing program, first announced in 2019, is expected to be completed this year, with possible procurement to follow.

As we reported in an in-depth story last year, BriteCloud is a battery powered, self-contained cartridge that provides an off-board jamming capability that can be dropped like the classic chaffs and flares, creating a large distance between the aircraft and the decoy so the missile and its shrapnel miss completely the aircraft. According to Leonardo, BriteCloud has the capability to defeat the majority of RF-guided surface-to-air and air-to-air threat systems, including the ones that rely on the “home-on-jam” guidance.

After BriteCloud is ejected, it starts to search for priority threats, collecting the incoming radar pulses and cross-referencing them against a pre-programmed threat library. Upon finding a match, BriteCloud’s on-board computer applies its advanced algorithms to simulate a “false target” so accurate that the threat system cannot detect the deception and distinguish it from the real aircraft.

“BriteCloud is substantially more effective than traditional countermeasures such as chaff decoys because its technology allows BriteCloud to tailor its powerful electronic ghost signal to the specific threat radar, allowing it to defeat modern, sophisticated threats,” says Wayne Smith, vice-president of sales for electronic warfare with Leonardo.

Leonardo is currently the only company which succeeded to sufficiently miniaturize the Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) technology to the point where it can be launched from a standard 55 mm chaff and flare dispenser (“the size of a drinks can”, as the company described it). With these characteristics, BriteCloud requires minimal platform integration as it just needs to be loaded in the chaff/flare dispensers.

Following the successful tests of the 55 mm BriteCloud round, called BriteCloud 55, Leonardo developed an even smaller variant called BriteCloud 218 which can fit the 2”x1”x8” US-made chaff/flare dispensers. The FCT tests will use the BriteCloud 218 round, which fits the standard AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispensers installed on the F-16.

An exploded look of BriteCloud 55. (Photo: Leonardo)

The latest milestone for the program was announced at Singapore air show. In the same occasion, as geopolitical tensions in the Asia-Pacific region continue to build, Leonardo said in a press release it is in discussion with a number of operators internationally to upgrade the region’s more than 500 F-16 fighters with the BriteCloud 218 decoy without needing to modify the platform or perform expensive integration work. The company declined to name the nations involved.

A recent press release from Leonardo also mentioned that two Italian Air Force Tornados and a Royal Danish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon visited RAF Coningsby during October 2021 for trials with the BriteCloud EAD: “Leonardo and the UK Royal Air Force have successfully demonstrated new high-tech deception techniques using its drinks-can-sized BriteCloud countermeasure, in co-operative trials with the Italian and Royal Danish Air Forces.”

The Italian Air Force fired BriteCloud 55 rounds from Tornado IDS aircraft and the Royal Danish Air Force dispensed BriteCloud 218 rounds from an F-16 fighter at the RAF Donna Nook air weapons range in Lincolnshire. “The new techniques proved highly effective at the trials range and the positive results will be presented to other NATO nations in an operators’ forum”, Leonardo mentioned.

According to spotters arrived at RAF Coningsby to see the visiting aircraft, the Italian Tornado IDS aircraft were MM7036/6-06 and MM7023/6-63, assigned to the 6°Stormo at Ghedi Air Base. The Tornados used the radio callsign “Spera”, meaning they were being flown by aircrew from 311° Gruppo Volo of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV), the Italian Air Force’s flight test unit. The Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM taking part in the same trials was identified as E-598.

These tests also follow the integration of BriteCloud on the MQ-9A Reaper and MQ-9B Sky/SeaGuardian series UAVs. General Atomics’ MQ-9 became the first RPAS to employ BriteCloud, with a test campaign in late 2020 that saw the Reaper successfully releasing a number of inert decoys during carriage and release trials from the new Self-Protection Pod.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

A-10C Thunderbolt IIs And C-146A Wolfhounds Conducted First Ever Highway Operations In The US

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A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II lands on a Michigan State Highway in Alpena, Michigan, Aug. 5, 2021. Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 354th Fighter Squadron and two A-10s from the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing landed on a state highway as part of Northern Strike 21, a large-scale training exercise. This is the first time in history that the Air Force has purposely landed modern aircraft on a civilian roadway in the U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alex M. Miller)

This Agile Combat Employment event during exercise Northern Strike 21 represents the first time in history that the Air Force has purposely landed modern aircraft on a civilian roadway in the US.

The U.S. Air Force operated some of its aircraft from a state highway as part of the Agile Combat Employment concept during exercise Northern Strike 21. According to the press release, this was the first time in history that the Air Force has purposely landed modern aircraft on a civilian roadway in the United States, with four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and two C-146A Wolfhounds landing on the Michigan State Highway M-32 near Alpena on August 5, 2021.

“Thunder LZ gave the pilots the opportunity to land in an austere environment that they’re not used to,” said Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski, the mission commander for Thunder LZ and a KC-135 Stratotanker instructor-pilot at the 127th Wing. “But it’s also a first in the nation, as this is the first time that modern combat aircraft have landed on U.S. soil, on a highway.”

Multiple units took part in the “Thunder LZ” (Landing Zone) event, with the 354th Fighter Squadron (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona) and the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing (Selfridge Air National Guard Base) deploying two A-10Cs each, AFSOC’s (Air Force Special Operations Command) 492nd and 919th Special Operations Wings deploying one C-146A each and the 24th Special Operations Wing deploying Special Tactics Airmen to establish the landing zone and provide air traffic control.

“Today’s training is directly applicable to what we would do during a deployed scenario in either combat or peacetime operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Falcone, the Special Tactics lead for the exercise. “We’re working on agile combat employment concepts, which basically makes the force more flexible, more maneuverable and creates challenges for our adversaries in different environments. It also increases the survivability of U.S. forces as we’re able to move around to more unpredictable locations to resupply, refuel or anything else we may need.”

To start the Thunder LZ training event, a team of Special Tactics Airmen, specialized in these operations, infiltrated, secured and controlled the airfield, which in this case was the closed M-32 highway. “The training event would not be possible without our Special Tactics Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Falcone. “Our Special Tactics are the critical team providing air ground communications including air traffic control, making sure the air assault zone is suitable for aircraft. Once the airfield was ready, the Special Tactics Airmen on the ground called in the first A-10C of 127th Wing to begin the landing operations.

The involvement of the Michigan ANG’s 127th Wing might not be casual, as the unit’s A-10s were the firsts to land on a highway in Estonia during Saber Strike 16, 32 years after the last highway exercise. While during the Cold War highway strips were used to get rid of the runway dependency in case of nuclear war, now they are used to operate everywhere from unpredictable locations and project combat airpower closer to the action quickly. Air Force senior leaders have emphasized that ACE will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s fight as the nation’s focus shifts to near-peer competition.

“This proof of concept proves that we can land on any highway and continue to operate,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. John Renner, 354th FS flight commander and one of the pilots who participated in the highway landing. “The A-10 allows us to land a lot more places to get fuel, weapons and other armament so we can operate anywhere, anytime. This will allow us to get away from using built-up bases that our adversaries can target by moving much more rapidly.”

A C-146A Wolfhound takes off from the M-32 highwaay. (Photo: Michigan DOT)

Held as part of the Michigan National Guard’s annual, multinational, largescale military training event, Exercise Northern Strike, the landing took place within the national all-domain warfighting center, an area of airspace, ranges and bases geographically located in northern Michigan, where all-domain training occurs in a joint environment. Thunder LZ was established on a four-lane stretch of M-32 approximately three miles west of the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, giving participating units the chance to practice posturing forces in a combat scenario, practicing the forward-arming and refueling concept of ACE.

This is a small step toward increasing our confidence in operating from austere locations,” said Lt. Col. Gary Glojek, 354th FS commander. “We are increasing the number of areas we can operate from to generate and deliver attack airpower by operating from dirt and pavement runways. Accelerating change is all about seizing every opportunity to move forward to increase your readiness. We are ready to get within striking range, and we are ready to go generate and deliver attack airpower from thousands of locations across the world. We are going to continue to get lighter, faster, more maneuverable and more flexible as we do that.”

The AFSOC C-146A played a key role in the training event, supporting the Special Tactics Airmen as they prepared to establish the highway landing zone. The C-146A Wolfhound is the military version of the Dornier 328 turboprop commuter airliner, modified to permit cargo and personnel transport missions and continuously deployed since 2011. The aircraft can carry a maximum of 27 passengers, 6,000 pounds of cargo, or up to four litter patients.

“The main mission of the C-146 is rapid responsive air mobility,” said the lead C-146 pilot for the exercise and aircraft commander assigned to the 492nd Special Operations Wing. “Our users are primarily special operations forces, but we can move other members around from the Department of Defense, other government agencies as well as host nationals. The type of aircraft we have in our mission set is ideal to work with the Special Tactics Airmen to make this effort come to fruition. Without our ability to infiltrate we wouldn’t be able to operate the A-10s from that austere location.”

With the successful landing of six aircraft from four different wings, the Thunder LZ event demonstrated the units’ ability to maintain interoperability as well as AFSOC’s commitment to serving as enablers to the total joint force. According to the press release, the event served as a proof of concept, demonstrating that “AFSOC, the Air Force and allies are not constrained to traditional runways and are ready to answer the call anytime, anywhere”.

“We really would not be doing any of this without AFSOC support,” added Lt. Col. Wyrzykowski. “This has been done overseas on roads that were made for aircraft, but this road was not made for aircraft. This really represents a new capability for the Department of Defense being able to operate off of a true highway.”

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

Wisconsin ANG Identifies Pilot Killed in F-16 Crash in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Grounds Flights Pending Investigation

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File photo of F-16 Aircraft #87-261 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis. (Photo by Capt. David Berget, Lacrosse Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing Civil Air Patrol)

Pilot from 115th Fighter Wing who went down over Hiawatha National Forest has been identified. Flights grounded following the crash.

The Wisconsin Air National Guard F-16 pilot who crashed Tuesday night, December 8, 2020, and was subsequently declared dead has been identified as 37-year old Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Capt. Jones was flying as a member of the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field Air National Guard Base outside Madison, Wisconsin.

At the time of the accident, Capt. Jones and his unit were participating in a routine training exercise over Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Capt. Jones initially joined the Air National Guard in 2011. According to a news release from his unit, he went on to graduate from basic qualification training in the F-16 Fighting Falcon during 2015. Capt. Jones then deployed operationally to the United States Pacific Command Theater Support Package in Japan during later 2015 and then to Korea in 2017. He is also a decorated combat veteran of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan during 2019.

During his distinguished service, Capt. Jones earned two Air Medals with combat “C” devices for exposure to significant risk in a combat environment while performing his mission.

In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s fatal crash, 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo has grounded all of his unit’s F-16s indefinitely pending inspections and the outcome of an accident investigation.

According to a Friday, December 11 report in The Air Force Times, reporters Diana Stancy Correll and Howard Altmann wrote that, “The accident is under investigation and will involve multiple phases: an initial phase that will gather and preserve information and should last about a week; a second phase that will determine what exactly occurred and will last approximately 30 days; and a final phase that seeks to identify the cause of the accident and could last more than a year”.

Stancy Correll and Altmann’s report went on to quote 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo as saying, “It [the unit] is grounded based on what we determine to be a safe time for us to fly again. Obviously, we conduct a mission that we need to continue, so we are slowly and deliberately looking at all things until we determine that we are safe to fly again.”

In the wake of the announcement of Capt. Jones’ death, the local community in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where Capt. Jones and his family live, held a socially distanced candlelight vigil in his honor to provide friends, colleagues and family members the opportunity to mourn the loss of Capt. Jones. Over 100 people were in attendance according to Channel 3000 News in Sun Prairie.

Capt. Jones leaves behind his wife and two young children who have lived in the Sun Prairie community for six years. Capt. Jone’s wife, Corinne Jones, spoke to the assembled group of mourners paying tribute to Capt. Jones and showing support for the family.

The local Channel 3000 report by Stephanie Fryer quoted Corinne Jones as telling the assembled group of mourners, “Since this happened, everything comes in waves. It’s the support of everyone here, everyone that can’t be here that’s helping me relight my candle.”

Watch This Epic 360-degree Video Filmed Inside The Cockpit Of A USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopter

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360-degree cockpit view (Image credit: screenshot from YT video)

Shot at 5.7K/30FPS with an Insta360 ONE X camera by Air Force Rescue Pilot @jolly_pilot the video below will literally bring you inside the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter flying at low level over New England. Based on the patch worn by one of the pilots, the aircrew (and most probably the chopper) belong to the 101st Rescue Squadron, a unit of the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing stationed at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, Westhampton Beach, New York.

The stabilized 360 video is just stunning as it provides an interesting, always changing POV: it looks like you are in the cockpit, rolling the helicopter and pulling Gs to follow the river bed. This kind of flying is required to train pilots flying the Combat SAR mission: the HH-60 is the dedicated USAF CSAR platform since Operation Desert Storm. To perform its mission, the HH-60G is fitted with an automatic flight control system, forward-looking infrared system and color weather radar that assists with finding and rescuing personnel anytime during the day or night. It is also equipped with a retractable, in-flight refueling probe and with internal auxiliary fuel tanks and it can be provided by two crew-served 7.62mm or .50-caliber machine guns.

However, as explained in a previous article published last year:

“The availability rate of the Pave Hawk fleet declined in the last years due to age of the airframes and the high operations tempo of the fleet because of the continuous deployments for combat operations in Africa and the Middle East. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office “About 68 percent of the 96-helicopter fleet were mission-capable as of fiscal year 2017, below the Air Force desired mission-capable rate of 75 percent.” The same report noted that the average flight hours of the available helicopters is 7100 hours, while the expected flying life was 6000 hours, and the average depot-level maintenance increased from 233 days in fiscal year 2007 to 322 days in fiscal year 2017.”

For this reason, the Air Force has launched an OLR (Operational Loss Replacement) program, “meant to replace the aircraft lost during combat operations since 9/11 (including one of the 210th RQS lost in Iraq in 2018), restoring the HH-60G fleet to its authorized size while also addressing issues with maintenance and availability of mission-capable aircraft. […] Units scheduled to receive the re-missionized helicopters will see a marked improvement in sustainability from the aircraft they’re currently flying, as numerous aging and obsolescent systems were modernized to match today’s state-of-the-art capabilities. These include color weather radar, a digital symbol generator, improved tactical air navigation, new radar warning receivers, an automatic direction finder, and a digital intercommunication system.”

The OLR HH-60Gs will act as a stopgap measure until the Air Force starts fielding the new HH-60W. Among the Air National Guard units receiving the OLR aircraft is also the 101st RQS at Gabreski Field, New York.