VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE -- Two A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter aircraft from the 59th and 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadrons at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, participating in exercise Rescue Edge, could be seen arriving at Vandenberg Space Force Base on Aug. 24, 2021.
A-10s are an uncommon sight at Vandenberg, but the flightline and its personnel were more than ready to be team players and support the exercise in a joint military capacity.
Most people know the iconic sound of the A-10s Gatling gun and its role in air-to-ground support. But exercise Rescue Edge, run by the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, incorporated and tested the A-10s capabilities in search and rescue operations, specifically at sea.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Randall Ott, 59th and 422d TES A-10 operational test instructor pilot said, “We had several people out in the water simulating a real world survival isolating event. Primarily we were looking at long range search capabilities using hardware and systems on the aircraft, and then transitioning to a visual search. Then we passed that information on while protecting them until they could be rescued.”
Vandenberg’s location and amenities were exactly what the A-10s needed Ott said.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt Michael Miller, 30th Operational Support Squadron deputy airfield manager said, “We don’t usually get fighter aircraft very often, however we have the potential to support possible unexpected in-flight emergencies, and potential fuel diverts. Vandenberg offers a host of services, planning, and coordination for events such as this. This includes anything from certain aircraft maintenance, flight planning, airspace deconfliction, airfield inspections, checks for flight safety, and refueling to name a few.”
The A-10 pilots also took the chance to build relationships. “We also wanted to integrate with the intercontinental ballistic missile operational test guys down here,” Ott said.
Vandenberg has a mission to “launch and test above the rest”. The 576th Flight Test Squadron is a component of Air Force Global Strike Command, and is housed at Vandenberg with a mission to test, measure and enhance the nation’s ICBM capabilities.
Ott acknowledged that while their units are very different, as test squadrons they can still learn a lot from each other.
“The 576th is under a completely different command with completely different assets, almost as opposite as you can get,” said Ott. “But they reached out so we can learn from each other's missions, discuss test enterprise issues, share some highlights and exchange best practices. It gives us different perspectives and different ways to attack our own problems. Any integration is always helpful.”
Supporting Rescue Edge showcases how the Space Force priority of developing joint warfighters and world class teams strengthens our military, and prepares them to face adversaries and emergencies anywhere.