Five students from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) completed the inaugural MH-60R Sensor Operator Course offered by the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity (NETSAFA) International Training Center (NITC) Sept. 27.
The eight-week “A” school course is the culmination of a year and a half of training, much of it equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s aircrew preparation program.
“This was the first group of students to complete this course, as part of an overall pipeline of training, teaching the basic theory and operations for the various systems the students will be working on in the MH-60R,” said Sammy Rowe, one of the course’s instructors. “I’m particularly pleased with how well all of our students achieved academically as they learned the fundamentals of being an aviation sensor operator.”
The course covered a variety of topics, including MH-60R airframe history, acoustics, radar, navigation, identification friend or foe radar, electronic warfare, and Electro-Optical / Infrared sensor operations.
The NITC course is the latest step for preparing the RSNF students 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.
“These five graduates represent a big step forward in developing an exciting new capability for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces,” said Cmdr. Mohamed Al-Zahrani, RSNF country liaison officer. “We are very proud of their accomplishments.”
Before the NITC course, 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 aircrew training that their U.S. Navy enlisted counterparts experience, covering a range of skills and topics such as mishap and water survival training, emergency egress procedures, and aviation life support systems.
The students will continue their training, just like their U.S. counterparts, with the “Air Wolves” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 40, the MH-60R fleet replacement squadron that trains U.S. Navy pilots and aircrew, along with international students, at Naval Station Mayport. Operational flight training will consist of ground, simulator and flight events, and is administered by a cadre of fleet-seasoned pilot and aircrew instructors.
“NITC is so proud of this course, and this initial group of exceptional students,” said Cmdr. William Gibson, NITC officer in charge. “It’s courses like this that help us strengthen alliances and partnerships and highlight for us as instructors the common goals we share and how crucial partnerships help us achieve common goals.”
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