Tandem jump makes wing history

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt Lauren M. Snyder
  • 920th Rescue Wing

Combat capabilities of the 920th Rescue Wing were tested here during a unique scenario for HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter maintenance Airmen in February.

The scenario tested the 920th Maintenance Group’s response capability to an aircrew stranded on a remote tropical island after an essential sensor malfunctioned during a combat mission, forcing their aircraft to make an emergency landing.

Equipped with a loaded travel-size toolbox and replacement component, a 920th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief jumped, in tandem, with a 304th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, from an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft; a first of its kind event for the wing.

This tandem jump was the first step towards the long-term development of permanent tactics, techniques and procedures to make our Airmen more agile in a diverse battlespace. 920th maintainers have always relied on the ‘maintenance repair team’ model, requiring substantial ground vehicle, equipment, and personnel support. Now that the initial capability to insert a maintainer via parachute to repair an aircraft has been tested and proven, leadership will be provided more nimble solutions to the complex scenarios of the future. 

“We came in to fix the issue the aircrew reported by replacing the necessary parts [and preforming an operational check],” the crew chief said. “[This option] would help us in a deployed environment or any scenario that has a helicopter and crew [isolated in] remote locations. We can be a lot quicker on the C-130 to get there and repair it. It’s a capability that was tested as an alternative means to fix a mechanical issue.”

The wing’s outside-the-box thinking in bolstering capabilities will expand its mission to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel.

“The results were great,” a 920th Operations Group officer said. “We were able to get a maintainer on the ground at the aircraft with the required toolsets to do the maintenance and get it flying. Going forward, we would be self-reliant and would be able to fix these issues organically and continue the mission.”

The three day exercise showcased the wing’s teamwork with the unit’s fighting power, agility, and organic support capabilities strategically tested, abilities were honed and lessons learned. The maintenance group will take these lessons and continue to train to sustain, employ, and recover the force in this manner going forward.

“The wing has come up with an ingenious way to get our maintainer to the aircraft as quickly as possible,” the 920th AMXS commander said. “Validating this concept is setting the standard for the rest of the Air Force to produce unique and progressive solutions to major combat operation challenges. This is truly the embodiment of our Squadron’s motto to ‘Improvise, Adapt, Overcome’.”