U.S. Navy helicopters train for rescue missions in Tucson

U.S. Navy helicopters train for rescue missions in Tucson

By Justin Schecker. CREATED Sep 19, 2013

DAVIS-MONTHAN, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Three U.S. Navy helicopters are conducting joint training this week with A-10's and Combat Search and Rescue Units at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

They protect ships at sea and provide support for special operations on land.

"They're very verstaile, they're very sturdy, they're very dependable aircraft," said HSC-23 Senior Chief Christopher Grending, who oversees the helicopters maintenance. 

But the Navy halos are in Tucson training for their third function: rescue missions. 

"If there is a downed aviator behind enemy lines, then we go in to rescue them," HSC-23 Commanding Officer Jennifer Wilderman said. 

Behind enemy lines, the A-10s often protect the MH-60 Sierra helicopters. Most of this week's simulations are taking place in a tactical firing range a hundred miles east of Tucson. 

"We get used to them doing their live fire and bombing around us, which is what they would do real world," Cdr. Wilderman said. 

Before taking off, maintenance crews clean out plugs, check fluids and load the guns. 

"A lot of people don't know the behind scenes of the maintenance," Grending said. "For every one hour of flight, there's six to seven hours of maintenance that goes on."

Cdr. Wilderman says this week's joint training is crucial for her squadron.

"We train like we fight, so the closer our training gets to what we're going to see in theater just gives us the experience to react to whatever we might see out there," she said.

Adjusting on the fly is key, especially when its a matter of saving american lives in harm's way.

After this week's training, the Navy choppers will return home to the Naval Air Station off the coast of San Diego.