Pararescuemen and other troops are practicing three main rescue scenarios — rescuing hostages in an urban environment, a boat rescue off the coast of California and a mass casualty event — during the two-week Angel Thunder 2015 exercise that began Sunday.
The world's largest personnel recovery exercise features thousands of troops and federal employees, dozens of aircraft and involvement of 11 partner nations. It is held at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
Angel Thunder 2015, which began May 31 and will last two weeks, gives pararescuemen and other troops, along with federal and civilian agencies, practice on three main rescue scenarios – rescuing hostages in an urban environment, a boat rescue off the coast of California and a mass casualty event, said Maj. Jim Tuthill, the deputy director of the exercise.
"Specifically this year, we are trying to focus on different environments we might experience in different areas we might be in," said Maj. Jim Tuthill, the deputy director of the exercise.
The exercise includes flying long distances in HH-60s and HC-130s to simulate what it would be like to rescue personnel in an area like Africa where there isn't a base close by.
"We really want to train to what it really feels like after flying four hours and then you have to do the job," Tuthill said.
"One of the main focuses of Air Force personnel recovery is to make sure we know how to get people home who are stranded in any type of situation," Tuthill said.
Angel Thunder began in 2006, with Air Combat Command identifying a need for a personnel recovery exercise. It has grown from a small, local exercise, to the largest of its kind with 3,000 participants and a budget of almost $5 million.
The Air Force units participating include the 38th, 48th, 306th and 304th rescue squadrons, along with the 129th Rescue Wing and the 153rd Airlift Wing. The aircraft involved in this year's exercise are HH-60 Pavehawks, HC-130 Hercules, MC-130P Combat Shadow, CH-47 Chinook, C-12 Huron, UC-35 Cessna and CH-53 Sea Stallions.