Helicopters from the 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan, flew to Osan AB, Korea, for intense combat rescue training with the 25th Fighter Squadron’s A-10s. Set to deploy together soon, the combat search and rescue task force combines “training requirements for high-end mission capabilities as well as provides spin-up training for our unit’s upcoming deployment,” said Lt. Col. Peter Ortiz, 33rd RQS commander. Task force A-10s will fly top-cover for the helicopters during the rescue training as they simulate a high-threat environment. Their mission is to “get the helicopter to the guy on the ground, otherwise there is no mission,” said Capt. Joel Bier, 25th FW project officer. “We’re there primarily to provide cover support and protect them from surface-to-air threats or enemy ground movements in the vicinity,” he added. The 10-day exercise, dubbed Pacific Thunder, began Monday and will continue through Nov. 9. (Kadena report by TSgt. Angelique Bilog)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.