Personnel Rescue and Recovery in a Contested Future

The Air Force must adjust tactics and training for dealing with personnel recovery missions in areas where access is challenged, said Maj. Michael Kingry, assistant director of operations with the 34th Weapons Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. During Air Combat Command’s annual Weapons and Tactics Conference in January at Nellis, personnel recovery forces explored operating in environments with modern air defenses, hostile populations, and even enemy jamming; that effort generated recommendations for improvements, Kingrey, a veteran HH-60 pilot, told attendees of the symposium’s Feb. 12 panel on weapons and tactics. For example, the Air Force needs to better tailor survival, evasion, resistance, and escape training for specific platforms; focus on teaching long-term evasion; and incorporate nonconventional assisted recovery, or the use of allied local forces trained to assist in rescues, he said. There should also be a personnel recovery officer in a squadron who would focus on how a particular aircraft would operate in a PR scenario, said Kingry. Technology gaps for personnel recovery in contested areas include resupplying isolated individuals, developing air-launched decoy tools to support rescues, utilizing better mapping tools on mobile electronic devices, and improving false beacons to deceive enemy forces trying to capture a downed pilot, he said.