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American helicopters – with Hungarian JTACs

Jolly Vihar 2023 – second iteration

Text: First Lieutenant Botond Hunor Mátyás | Photo: Airman Synsere Howard |  15:58 July 12, 2023

Already on the second occasion, the U.S. Air Force 56th Rescue Squadron has recently deployed to the Hungarian Defence Forces 47th Air Base to participate in a two-week Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) exercise coupled with live fire missions in the Bakony Hills.


With the Hungarian airmen’s support, the experienced helicopter crews develop their capabilities in situations approximating battlefield conditions on the Hungarian Defence Forces Central Training and Firing Range. In exchange, the American personnel share their experience, techniques and procedures that may further increase their Hungarian comrades’ knowledge. Last time, the experts of the two nations jointly worked out a “hot gun” procedure for removing duds from weapons after live firing missions, and also carried out this special and dangerous procedure in practice.

The development of the aerodrome necessitated the transfer of the earlier established weapons loading and unloading area to another venue, which almost immediately proved to be suitable in a live situation as well, due to a round that got stuck during live firing. Once again, the ground crew of Pápa airbase successfully responded to the event, gaining recognition from the commander of the American squadron. During the exercise, the Pápa airmen were also acting as role-players in situations when the helicopters were tasked with recovering pilots who had ejected over enemy territory.


The Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) of the Szolnok-based HDF 86th Helicopter Wing were also assigned an important role on Exercise Jolly Vihar, as they were coordinating the air movements of HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters in the Terminal Employment (TE) phase, while the helicopters were providing Close Air Support to blue ground forces during a live firing mission. In the framework of joint training activities, it was not only in the live phase of the exercise that the American crews were cooperating with their Hungarian colleagues, as they had been introduced to the procedures of the CSAR unit already in the planning phase. Following the planning phase, the JTACs learned about the operational procedures on board of the helicopters, where they also participated in the task as door gunners. The 56th Rescue Squadron and the Hungarian Defence Forces will continue their successful cooperation in order to help increase each other’s capabilities through joint training activities.