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31st OG Conducts Operation Porcupine 2021

Two pararescuemen escort a downed pilot to a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021.

Two pararescuemen escort a downed pilot to a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during exercise Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021. Operation Porcupine is a combat search and rescue exercise requiring Aviano Air Base’s 510th Fighter Squadron, 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons, 606th Air Control Squadron and 731st Expeditionary Air attack Squadron to work together to accomplish the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

Two pararescuemen with the 57th Rescue Squadron search for a downed pilot during Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021.

Two pararescuemen with the 57th Rescue Squadron search for a downed pilot during exercise Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021. Operation Porcupine demonstrated the unique capabilities of the 31st Operations Group, which hosts all assets needed to conduct a combat search and rescue mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Austin Huff, 510th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, listens to his radio during Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Austin Huff, 510th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, listens to his radio during exercise Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021. As part of Operation Porcupine, an exercise demonstrating the interoperability of all units in the 31st Operations Group, Huff acted as a downed pilot while evading opposing forces and coordinating with the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons for exfiltration under hostile conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Austin Huff, 510th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, receives treatment for his simulated injuries during Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Austin Huff, 510th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, receives treatment for his simulated injuries during exercise Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021. Operation Porcupine is a search and rescue exercise and Huff’s role was a downed pilot in need of rescue in a contested environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter takes off after rescuing a downed pilot during Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter takes off after rescuing a downed pilot during Operation Porcupine in Romania, March 4, 2021. The 56th Rescue Squadron provides a rapidly-deployable, worldwide combat rescue and reaction force response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV)

CINCU, Romania (AFNS) --

The 31st Operations Group conducted exercise Operation Porcupine in Cincu, Romania, March 4.

Operation Porcupine is an annual exercise that tests the capability of the different squadrons inside the 31st OG and their ability to work together.

“Operation Porcupine is a joint exercise taking place in Romania this year, involving U.S. F-16s (Fighting Falcons), HH-60s (Pave Hawks), and MQ9s (Reapers) as well as both U.S and Romanian (joint terminal attack controllers),” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Richard Bush, 56th Rescue Squadron pilot.

The exercise simulated a downed F-16 pilot. The 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons, 510th Fighter Squadron and 606th Air Control Squadron all worked together to recover the pilot in a simulated contested environment.

“The scenario is an isolated F-16 pilot who had to eject from the aircraft,” Bush said. “Our ultimate goal is to rescue that pilot before he is captured by enemy forces.”

The downed pilot worked diligently to incorporate survival, evasion, resistance and escape methods with the help of a SERE specialist, to evade opposing forces, while also making contact with the rescue team.

The 510th FS provided air support during the exercise while the 606th ACS provided command and control from the ground.

The 56th and 57th RQS responded to the down pilot in an HH-60G helicopter within the hour. “Our role in the HH-60’s is to provide a rescue asset to aid in the recovery of any isolated personnel, should that situation occur,” Bush said.

The 56th RQS team landed the Pave Hawk as close to the pilot as possible, while ensuring the pilot was at a safe distance. The 57th RQS pararescuemen then moved in and found the pilot, who had a broken arm and pain in his back. The pararescuemen identified the downed pilot, escorted him to the helicopter and treated his injuries.

“There were definitely some things that arose that we had to work through on the fly, but overall I would call it a success and next year I imagine it will be the same,” Bush said.

Joint exercises like Operation Porcupine ensure the combat readiness of 31st OG in conducting and supporting worldwide air operations.

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