First combined training of the Spanish Navy 10th Aircraft Squadron and the U.S. HSM-79 Squadron in the ‘Bardenas Reales’ range

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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SH-60B ‘Ansar’ in the ‘Bardenas’ range
SH-60B ‘Ansar’ in the ‘Bardenas’ range
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SH-60B ‘Ansar’ in the ‘Bardenas’ range
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SH-60B and MH-60Rs in the Zaragoza military airfield
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Combined briefings

Between 10 and 13 of June, the first combined training between the 10th Spanish Navy Aircraft Squadron and the US Navy’s HSM-79 Squadron took place at Zaragoza Air Base. One SH-60B and two MH-60R helicopters participated, respectively, in this exercise. Although the combined training of both units is common in the framework of the Bilateral Training Exercise Conference (BTEC), this was the first time that the ‘Sentinels’ of the HSM-79 Squadron operated in the ‘Bardenas Reales’ firing range.

The purpose of this deployment was training in firing from side door machine guns and in designating targets for infrared laser guided missiles, such as the AGM-114 ‘Hellfire’, or others compatible weapons with NATO code laser systems. Although different units of the Spanish Navy Aircraft Flotilla have been training in ‘Bardenas’ for years, the incorporation of the American allies has increased the quality and complexity of the exercise in its entirety, from the prior planning phase with briefings, to the actual execution of the exercise.

Operating with two US Navy aircraft, with their greater personnel capacity and support material, together with the existing adverse weather conditions, meant a greater degree of logistic and operational complexity. However, it also provided a valuable learning opportunity for all involved. For American personnel, this exercise represented a remarkable advance in their training options in Spain, being the furthest navigation drill performed in VFR in our territory until now, and the first time they carried out ground targeting exercises at Spanish firing ranges.

In short, the deployment has been an ideal opportunity for twinning, in addition to sharing the knowledge of some operational particularities of the MH-60R helicopters that will soon become the future helicopter of the 10th Squadron. Another benefit has been the expansion of the geographical area of operation, and the range of combined training available for the two squadrons.


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