Earlier this year, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) demonstrated joint operations with NATO partners across multiple domains. This multi-agency effort utilized Air Mobility Command (AMC) airlift assets, Air Combat Command (ACC) support for staging and redeployment, and enabled the efforts of both the active duty and reserve components of the United States Air Force (USAF).
HITRON out of Jacksonville, Florida, utilized its’ fleet of MH-65 helicopters in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATFS) counternarcotic operations. On April 22, 2022, a C-17 Globemaster II, operated by the USAF Reserve’s 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, delivered the MH-65 to ACC’s Forward Operating Location (FOL), Curacao. The MH-65 was reassembled, prepared for flight and departed on April 25, 2022 for the Royal Netherlands Navy’s HNLMS Groningen from the Netherlands.
For nearly two months, HITRON operated it’s MH-65s from the HNLMS Groningen in the Netherlands, integrated with the Royal Netherlands Navy and investigated targets identified from JIATFS, which were tracked by aircraft from the Department of Defense and multiple U.S. Government agencies. While operating, the aircrew facilitated compliance of multiple vessels with warning shots off their bow. The deployment culminated in three seizures resulting in the confiscation of 1,346 kilograms of cocaine and nine suspects detained.
According to specialists, the Netherlands operations N3 from Naval Base Parera, Curacao credited this operation as “an overwhelmingly positive operation.” The HITRON MH-65 were force enablers and the Royal Netherlands Navy “looks forward to utilizing this asset in the future.”
Upon mission completion, the MH-65 aircrew returned to FOL, Curacao on June 15, 2022 for airlift preparation. During disassembly, Lt. Jared Ische, USCG HITRON aircraft commander , graciously provided a mission briefing and arranged a static tour to FOL personnel and the U.S. Air Force, 612th Theater Operations Group Commander, Col. Cory Christoffer.
The MH-65 along with its aircrew returned home to Jacksonville, Florida, on another 315th Airlift Wing C-17 June 18, 2022. This deployment is one example of many showcasing support provided by FOL, Curacao can enable.
This piece is written by the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs. Want to feature your story? Reach out to us at [email protected].