The United States Air Force (USAF) announced today, 6 November, that the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons from RAF Lakenheath, UK are relocating to Aviano Air Base, Italy starting in 2017.
These squadrons of aircraft, aircrew, Guardian Angel Weapons Systems and support personnel will relocate to Aviano Air Base starting in fiscal year 2017. This includes five HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and approximately 350 personnel in an effort to establish an enduring Personnel Recovery location within Europe.
“This relocation of our rescue airmen places them in a more strategic location to respond across Africa, Europe, and Southwest Asia,” said Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “We always take a serious, pragmatic look at how we can most effectively meet our commitments and guarantee the shared security of the United States and our allies and partners.”
The move is expected to take two to three years to complete.
During the European Infrastructure Consolidation review, programmers found excess capacity at Aviano. Part of the additional space was designated for the 56th and 57th RQSs, who deploy around the world to recover personnel from the most difficult and hostile conditions imaginable.
Construction decisions and transition milestones for the relocation will take place over the next several years.
UPDATED 20 FEBRUARY 2015 | Cope North Guam 2015 (CNG15), a multinational exercise of the United States and its closest allies facing China, is underway in the Pacific. The Republic of Korea Air Force (South Korea), the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and the Royal Australian Air Force are participating, as well as the US armed forces of course. Epicentre of the operations: Andersen Air Force Base.
CNG15 involves a large force employment performing simulated air combat and disaster relief operations according to various scenarios. For the Royal Australian Air Force this is the fourth time its personnel and aircraft are participating. To underline its importance the RAAF’s contribution is substantial: eight McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18A/B Hornet multi-role fighters, a Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.
The US Air Force has – amongst other assets – B-52s, F-15s, F-16s, KC-135s and C-130s in the area. Japan deployed indigenous Mitsubishi F-2 multi-role fighters and McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F-15s, as well as C-130s, a KC-767J and the E-2C Hawkeye. The exact contribution of South Korea was not clear at the time of writing, but some of the images released by the RAAF give a minor clue. According to the exercise leaders officers of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Philippine Air Force are participating as well, but whether they bring their own aircraft was not confirmed.
Cope North Guam 2015 runs from 15 to 27 February. Corporal David Gibbs of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 28SQN AFID-EDN is at Andersen and made some nice shots!
With the international community focusing on both the Russian-Ukrainian stand-off and the missing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, one almost forgets loads of other things happen in the world of aviation. Take the famous Red Flag exercises in the Nevada dessert. At AIRheads↑Fly we published a much viewed feature on edition 14-01, but the second Red Flag of the year went by largely unnoticed. Until now 🙂
Even the media units of the Belgian and Danish ministries of Defence hardly paid any attention to their men and women being deployed to literately the Vegas of aerial combat. Maybe they took the nickname of the host city a bit to seriously: What happens there, stays there. Only when Belgian Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge visited the operations at Nellis AFB, a little bit of news coverage followed but without any Belgian F-16s to show. From the Danish side, it was as quiet as it normally is from the Saudis who were also there this time.