CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti— U.S. Airmen from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and the French Air Force’s Transport Squadron ET 88 participated in the first bilateral rotary wing water operations exercise in the Gulf of Tadjoura July 3.
In two boats, teams of rescue personnel glided over the choppy seas for several miles until they reached their designated point. Pararescuemen donned their gear and made their way out into the water, all the while, scanning the skies for the approaching SA 330 Puma helicopter.
“The significance of this exercise was to work with our French counterparts and be familiar with the French aircraft, rescue swimmer procedures, and patient handling for maritime operations,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Fike, 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron.
The purpose of the exercise was to conduct aircraft, and crew familiarizations, and ground rehearsals, which is especially important since the United States and France provide mutual support to maritime and air operations within the Horn of Africa region.
The results of the exercise will aid in the development of standard operating procedures between the 82nd ERQS and the French Air Force’s Transport Squadron ET 88.
In addition, developing standard operating procedures will establish some shared expectations and needed redundancy in some very critical capabilities. For instance, in the event that the HH-60 helicopters were not available to be used, maritime rescue capability could still be maintained by using the French Air Force’s Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopter.
“This exercise rehearsal verifies the French capabilities to assist the U.S effort in peace-time maritime rescue,” said Fike. “This ensures we are providing expedient recovery and medical treatment to any survivor(s) who need to be rescued at sea.”