AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --
Multiple squadrons from the 31st Fighter Wing worked closely during Exercise Operation Porcupine, June 30, 2020, at Aviano Air Base.
Operation Porcupine is an annual exercise created to promote interoperability among 31st FW units.
“Aviano has a very diverse amount of assets,” said Col. Leslie Hauck, 31st Operations Group commander. “With all those diverse missions being at one base, we are able to plan together, train together, and debrief together. It is the most realistic training I have received in my military career.”
The exercise simulated a downed pilot scenario. The 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons, 31st Operations Support Squadron, 510th and 555th Fighter Squadrons, 606th Air Control Squadron worked together to rescue the pilot in a simulated contested environment.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” said Tech. Sgt. Dylan Sedillo, 31st OSS noncommissioned officer in charge of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training. “That is what we’re really here to do, to help people be successful when things get dangerous.”
Members from the 31st Security Forces Squadron acted as enemy forces simultaneously searching for the pilot. The team used whistles to create simulated gun fire making the crash landing zone more realistic.
The 56th and 57th RQS deployed in a little under an hour to retrieve the pilot. The 606th ACS provided Command and Control from the ground while the 510th and 555th FS provided air support. SERE specialist from the 31st OSS helped the downed pilot evade enemy forces.
The 56th RQS team landed their HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter as close to the pilot as possible.
Not long after, 57th RQS pararescuemen found the pilot. For this scenario, the pilot was badly injured and needed to be stabilized before being moved. The team worked effectively and efficiently to stabilize the pilot before moving him. Finally, they were able to get the pilot on a stretcher and to the helicopter, successfully completing the scenario.
Exercises like Operation Porcupine test the swift mobility and capabilities of the wing to ensure the 31st FW is always rapidly ready to respond to any situation at a moment’s notice.