Just before dawn of a cloudy morning in South Vietnam this alarm was heard "An F-105 pilot is down in enemy territory. Bring him back!" Within minutes 2 twin-turbine Sikorsky HH-3E helicopters of the US Air Force's Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service were whirling their way into North Vietnam, climbing high through the clouds to hurdle a mountain range that lay across the shortest route to their destination. Availing themselves of maximum speed of 165 mph, the two Choppers reach the area in little time and dropped from their cruising level of 6,000 feet to a hover just above the 60 foot high jungle growth. The crews sighted the downed Pilots' parachute and the rescue hoist, designed for forest penetration, went down through the vegetation and in a few minutes came up with one happy pilot. The Viet Cong, converging on the scene, were only minutes away. This mission was carried out in 50 minutes. The result of this speedy recovery: another life saved by a service dedicated to rescuing American fighting men. Because of the unique characteristics of the conflict in Vietnam, our nation's rescue-and-recovery capability has become extremely important. The US Air Force's Aerospace rescue-and-recovery service (ARRS) is the branch of the Armed Forces dedicated to the development of this critical area of modern warfare. One of the most significant advances in Rescue and Recovery has been the recent success of air-to-air refueling of a helicopter from a fixed-wing tanker aircraft. In combat areas, a critical factor in Rescue and Recovery is what ARRS men call "access time", or the time needed to reach a downed pilot. To the man on the ground in enemy territory, access time can mean the difference between recovery and capture- often between life and death. Rather than have rescue copters on stand-by at a base, ARRS planners have realized that access time can be shortened if the helicopters are loitering on the periphery of the combat zone and able to go right in when a man needs them. This increased capability is made possible by air-to-air refueling of the rescue helicopters. The Sikorsky HH-3E has been designed, developed and put in use for this purpose. Assigned to the Aerospace Rescue-and-Recovery Service, the HH-3E's prime combat mission is the recovery of downed Pilots. It is equipped with two external jettisonable fuel tanks for long-range flight. It also features a telescopic air refueling probe for extended flights. A 65 foot hose is extended from the tanker aircraft and is attached in air to the probe fitted to the nose of the helicopter. Because of this advance the ARRS has realized the rescue capability it desired in a helicopter able to stay aloft for lengthy periods of time and be only a few minutes away from a downed Airman. For its Mission the HH-3E is both armor-plated and armed for protection from hostile forces while in the combat area. Rapid loading and unloading of the copter is provided by a rear ramp and cargo door. A water-tight boat hull and large sponsons on either side provide amphibious capability. A newly-designed hoist to penetrate the heavy forest and jungle areas has also been added to the HH-3E. Due to its effective use in the Vietnam conflict, this Chopper has won the respect of all military services and has been nicknamed by the fighting men in Vietnam the "Jolly Green Giant".
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