Wolf Pack advances techniques, friendship with Republic of Korea Air Force

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel Earick
  • 8th Fighter WIng Public Affairs

The Republic of Korea Air Force 162nd Fighter Squadron hosted the U.S. Air Force 80th FS for a U.S.-ROK Buddy Squadron training event Aug. 7-9.

The Buddy Squadron event was a series of training scenarios and flight missions that allowed pilots from both countries to share and sharpen air-to-air and air-to-surface strike tactics, techniques and procedures.

While working together, members from both fighter squadrons built rapport and learned from each other through mission planning and execution.

“Being able to train and work together during this event shows that we are not just two separate forces,” said 1st Lt. Mark Sargent, 80th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “We are able to coordinate and use the same playbook cohesively.”

One of the many focuses during the event was performing both air-to-air and air-to-surface operations as one cohesive flying force during a single mission.

“Focusing on these operational scenarios in a training environment with our allies enhances our ability to mutually support U.S. and ROKAF flight missions,” said Sargent.

After getting to know each other during an ice breaker event both FS’s immediately began with mission planning and to rapidly accomplish training objectives before the arrival of a Typhoon Khunan..

“During the mission we were able to focus on an air-to-surface game plan while not losing the air-to-air picture,” said Sargent. “So we would fight air-to-air all the way to a target, switch hats, bomb a target, turn around, continue to fight air-to-air and get out.”

While the FS’s were focused on improving shared TTPs, maintainers ensured the aircraft remained mission ready and improved their ability to fully integrate with ROKAF counterparts to support Buddy Squadron operations.

“This is a cool opportunity to be able to come out and work with the ROKAF,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Ewers, 80th Fighter Generation Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of debrief. “We came here as a really small team and have had to be flexible when working together in producing mission ready aircraft so that our pilots are able to train.”

During a post flight inspection an 80th FGS crew chief discovered an issue with the landing gear of a U.S. Air Force F-16.

“We had a nose landing gear collar that was giving us some trouble and didn't have the tools with us to fix it,” said Senior Airman Brenden Ryser, 80th FGS crew chief.

162nd FS maintainers provide support to KF-16 Fighting Falcons and were able to supply the 80th FGS with the tools necessary to keep the Buddy Squadron training on schedule.

“Being able to lean on our counterparts helps us be ready for future missions and it’s always good to know we are able to support one another,” said Ryser.

Sargent also discussed how he enjoyed getting to know the ROKAF pilots not only during official training but personally as well.

“We had a chance to sit down with the entire squadron and chat over dinner,” said Sargent. “It gave us an opportunity to learn more about their path to becoming a fighter pilot and also who they are as people.”

By focusing on personal trust and professional interoperability, Buddy Squadron training events ensure the Alliance between the U.S. and ROK remains ironclad.