There could be no greater sight to a downed USAF pilot or wounded personnel than a Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopter (CSAR). When these appear they know the rescue pilots are there to get them home.
HH-60 helicopters are equipped with Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment (PAVE – which includes an advanced navigation system, a global positioning system and secure satellite communications) along with night vision gear (NVG), a forward looking infrared system (FLIR), automatic flight controls, weather avoidance radar, engine/rotor blade anti-icing, a rescue hoist and a retractable inflight refueling probe. Defensive equipment includes a radar warning receiver (RWR), electronic/infrared/flare/chaff countermeasures and 2 x 7.62 mm miniguns or 2 x 0.50 caliber machineguns to lay down suppressing fire. All of these systems enables the HH-60 to operate day or night across long distances to locate their rescue target in a hostile combat environment and get out safely.
The 66th Rescue Squadron based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada put on a demonstration of a rescue at Aviation Nation 2014. One armed HH-60 provided protective cover for any enemy forces that may appear whilst a second retrieved a wounded soldier from the battlefield.
The 66th Rescue Squadron was reformed in 1991 (originally disbanded in 1958) to create a combat search and rescue function that was deployable around the world. Commencing in 2003 with deployment to Iraq the squadron has conducted rescue missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These rescue missions are dangerous work and the aircrews risk their lives to save that of others. To highlight their bravery, during operations in Afghanistan squadron members were awarded 2 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars and 24 Distinguished Flying Crosses for bravery. Brave work indeed.