Angel Thunder 18 is a personnel recovery event that is held twice a year (May and November) in the United States southwest. The Combat Search and Rescue exercise is staged out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
Personnel from the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force participate in this bi-annual event. In addition, other countries provide military participants as well. This fall’s Angel Thunder 18 exercise features military units from Canada, France, Italy, and Poland. Each iteration of the exercise sees countries from all parts of the world participating.
In the past the Angel Thunder exercise was held once a year – usually in the spring. Typically, the U.S. Army Special Forces sent one or two SF teams to take part in the PR exercise – many times to conduct Non-Conventional Assisted Recovery (NAR) training. Now that the event is held twice a year it is a smaller exercise. The Angel Thunder 18 will use range sites across Arizona as well as in some neighboring states. First held in 2016 the Angel Thunder exercise is advertised as the world’s biggest joint-service, multinational, interagency combat search and rescue exercise.
The exercise typically involves a large number of aircraft of all types and a few thousand personnel. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is home to several combat rescue units and the A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft. The A-10 is frequently used during CSAR missions.
The training scenarios simulate deployment conditions and contingencies allowing the personnel recovery forces to train through a large spectrum of PR capabilities. A wide variety of units and agencies participate – including special forces elements and government agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of State.
Read more in “Angel Thunder: Augmenting CSAR Readiness via Evolution”, DVIDS, November 6, 2017.
Angel Thunder – USAF