Eighteen naval aviators and two aircrew members from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) participated in a winging ceremony with the U.S. Navy’s “Air Wolves” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 40 Nov. 12.
All of the graduates spent several years in much of the same training that their equivalent U.S. Navy colleagues complete as part of a rigorous naval aviation training program.
International training, such as what the RSNF students experienced, is coordinated through the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity (NETSAFA). Much of the preparatory training that these students complete, in pursuit of their designation as aviators and aircrewmen, takes place at the NETSAFA International Training Center (NITC). NETSAFA and NITC work with international friends and allies to offer a wide range of courses to include aviation, technical, fundamental skills, specialized training, and leadership programs.
In this case, the RSNF students completed an overall pipeline of training to prepare them for flight operations in the MH-60R multi-mission helicopter, which provides the capability to identify, engage, and defeat maritime security threats along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay.
“This was the first group of both pilots and aircrew to complete their associated training paths for this particular aircraft,” said Cmdr. William Gibson, NITC officer in charge. “It’s very rewarding to see the success of our allies, and training like this helps us strengthen alliances and partnerships.”
Before pursuing their naval aviation training, the students completed intensive English language immersion programs at U.S. universities as part of their training roadmap. Then, they reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola to go through the same student naval aviator or aircrew training that their U.S. Navy counterparts experience. They concluded their training with HSM-40, the MH-60R fleet replacement squadron, at Naval Station Mayport, where their operational flight training consisted of ground, simulator and flight events, administered by a cadre of fleet-seasoned pilot and aircrew instructors.
U.S. Naval Education and Training Command