We thought we'd give you a look at the type of aircraft that could have involved in last night's rescue of the F-15E Strike Eagle pilot who crash landed in Libya. Right now, all we know for sure is that at least one MV-22 Osprey from the Marine Corps’ 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was involved.
It's also rumored that an AWACS jet was involved in coordinating the rescue which involved the Osprey flying off the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge. Furthermore, there's a good chance the high-speed, long-range MV-22 was escorted by fighters rather than slower choppers like the Marine Corps' AH-1 Cobras. The fighters could have been USMC AV-8B Harriers who are also flying off the Kearsarge. There’s also a bunch of other allied fighter jets in the region that could have helped out. However, those Harriers are the closest U.S. jets to Libya, and in a CSAR situation, you want to get your rescue team on scene as soon as possible.
Still, one source who has experience planning this type of operation suggests that since it was an Air Force "Strike Eagle that was in the battle, they would have wanted their PJs to be part of whatever CSAR plan was established before the operation."
Maybe Air Force pararescue jumpers participated in the actual operation or maybe they were simply briefed on the plan.
Remember, the USAF's 56th Rescue Squadron, flying HH-60 Pave Low CSAR helicopters, is based out of RAF Lakenheath in England (the same base where the Strike Eagle was home-based). There's a good chance some of these choppers and PJs have been forward deployed along with some MC-130P Combat Shadow special ops tankers from the Air Force's 67th Special Operations Squadron based out of RAF Mildenhall. For now, it looks like the Air Force birds remained on the ground.
British assets apparently played a peripheral role.
More to come as we get details on the operation, including info on the aircraft used to rescue to second crew member.