French/U.S. Air Forces hone aerial combat skills

French Air Force Capt. Christophe Dubois reviews plans with U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Rudolphi, 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander, prior to a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303 ERQS against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario, challenging the U.S. helicopters to rescue downed aircrew while being engaged by the fighters. (French Air Force photo by Sergent-chef Kevin Congini) CJTF-HOA Photo French Air Force Capt. Christophe Dubois reviews plans with U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Rudolphi, 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander, prior to a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303 ERQS against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario, challenging the U.S. helicopters to rescue downed aircrew while being engaged by the fighters. (French Air Force photo by Sergent-chef Kevin Congini)
French Air Force Capt. Vincent Zanella, Mirage 2000-5 pilot, uses a mirror to signal a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo French Air Force Capt. Vincent Zanella, Mirage 2000-5 pilot, uses a mirror to signal a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 pilots, Capt. Vincent Zanella (front) and Maj. Guillaume Deschamps, signal a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter while awaiting pickup during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 pilots, Capt. Vincent Zanella (front) and Maj. Guillaume Deschamps, signal a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter while awaiting pickup during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
A U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter takes off during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario, challenging the U.S. helicopters to rescue downed aircrew while being engaged by the fighters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo A U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter takes off during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario, challenging the U.S. helicopters to rescue downed aircrew while being engaged by the fighters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 pilots, Capt. Vincent Zanella (front) and Maj. Guillaume Deschamps, run to a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario. The two pilots volunteered to simulate downed aircrew members, and were extracted by U.S. personnel at the conclusion of the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 pilots, Capt. Vincent Zanella (front) and Maj. Guillaume Deschamps, run to a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter during a joint training exercise near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 8. The training placed HH-60s from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron against French Mirage fighters in a simulated hostile rescue scenario. The two pilots volunteered to simulate downed aircrew members, and were extracted by U.S. personnel at the conclusion of the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron lands near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti during a joint training mission with the French Air Force Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter) CJTF-HOA Photo An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron lands near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti during a joint training mission with the French Air Force Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter)
An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron flies over Djibouti during a joint training mission with the French Air Force Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter) CJTF-HOA Photo An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron flies over Djibouti during a joint training mission with the French Air Force Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter)
A French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighter flies over Djibouti during a training exercise with the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 Pave Hawk and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter) CJTF-HOA Photo A French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighter flies over Djibouti during a training exercise with the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 Pave Hawk and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter)
Members of the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron don their gear prior to a joint training mission with the French Air Force in Djibouti Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 Pave Hawk and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter) CJTF-HOA Photo Members of the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron don their gear prior to a joint training mission with the French Air Force in Djibouti Sept. 8, 2013. The training exercise between the HH-60 Pave Hawk and Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft involved a simulated hostile rescue scenario enabling both forces to practice low level aircraft evasion techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter)

In the skies above Djibouti, members of the U.S. and French Air Forces joined together in an unlikely training scenario, pitting helicopters against fighter aircraft in a simulated hostile rescue situation.

Members of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa's 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron partnered with French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighter pilots here to conduct a combat exercise in which U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters recovered downed aircrew while being engaged by enemy fighters.

"The French Mirages were trying to find and engage us, and we attempted to avoid detection and defended ourselves accordingly," said Capt. David Nelson, 303 ERQS pilot.

Practicing aerial combat maneuvers gives pilots from both countries the opportunity to step outside of their normal training parameters and get hands-on experience in realistic combat scenarios. Although this exercise has the countries flying against one another, it allows each side to learn from one another and successfully work as a team in future joint engagements.

"Although we are fighting against each other, we are learning about the capabilities of each other's aircraft," said Maj. Adam Rudolphi, 303 ERQS commander.

Flying alongside ally aircraft builds teamwork and strengthens relations, important factors for potential future conflicts in which air-to-air engagements would be a possibility, he added.

For helicopter pilots, training against different platforms such as fighters allows them to expand their skills and capabilities, making them more prepared to handle any situation that may arise on the battlefield. Due to the rapid dynamics associated with aerial combat, training against a fighter adversary requires rapid crew coordination which can be carried over to the gamut of missions required of the HH-60 aircrews.

"Ideally we would have support going into a hostile environment, but it's good to have this training and prepare for worst-case scenarios," said Nelson. "Any time we can get this type of training, especially with a foreign ally, is something that is invaluable."

Multinational training translates directly to a more prepared, battle-ready force, capable of leveraging the strengths of partner nations. Regardless of the situation, CJTF-HOA's rescue personnel are prepared to recover our allies from harm's way and continue to provide peace and stability in the region.

Tags

U.S. Air Force Exercise Djibouti Training

We suggest

Incoming EARF completes validation, demonstrates crisis response capability

Within hours of being notified, CJTF-HOA’s East Africa Response Force prepared dozens of Soldiers and tons of supplies for takeoff during an emergency response exercise, validating the EARF’s rapid response capabilities.

Joint SAR training tests interservice communications

Seventeen Sailors, from the Coastal Riverine Squadron One-Forward (CRS1-FWD), and 13 Airmen from the 449th Air Expeditionary Group conducted a joint search and recovery training exercise called “Neptune’s Falcon” in the Gulf of Tadjoura, off the coast of Djibouti, Dec. 20, 2013.

Although sister services work together daily at the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy rarely train together. This exercise gave them a chance to tes

'Train Like You Fight': Coalition Exercise Preps PJs For Real-World Emergency

Many moving parts go into producing and executing an exercise and U.S. Air Force pararescuemen, or PJs, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA, put their skills to the test recently during a mass casualty exercise which began in Djibouti's Grand Bara Desert.

Mass Casualty Exercise 12-1, a U.S. and French crisis response exercise held Sept. 25, 2012, allowed CJTF-HOA's PJ team to work alongside the French armed forces, as well as their U.S.

A joint approach to field sanitation

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines gathered to take part in a week-long Field Sanitation Team Training course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Feb. 13-17, 2017.