Kunsan reopens runway, airpower returns

  • Published
  • By 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing returned after the completion of a five-month runway reconstruction project, Aug. 30, 2023.

Despite being displaced from home base since April when construction began, the 8th FW, also known as the Wolf Pack, was able to conduct operations and project airpower from various locations on the Korean peninsula.

“It’s good to have the Wolf Pack home,” said Col. Timothy B. Murphy, 8th FW commander. ”We have been able to accomplish a lot in the past five-months… participating in numerous exercises across the Indo-Pacific and operating at bases all over the Korean Peninsula, but getting all members of the Pack and our aircraft back in one place so they can ‘Fight Tonight’ was always the priority.”

Normal flight operations are set to resume immediately for the 8th FW, its two F-16 squadrons and their ROK Air Force 38th Fighter Group mission partner, with which they share the runway.

“The capabilities we are able to provide here at Kunsan alongside our ROK Air Force counterparts have been essential to warding off external threats and protecting the way of life for more than 51 million people,” said Murphy. “Now that we are all going to be back here together, those capabilities will only continue to improve and ultimately strengthen the ironclad ROK- U.S. Alliance.”

The $22 million construction project replaced or repaired more than 1,500 concrete slabs on the 9,000-foot runway but didn’t stop operations for 8th FW units while the airfield was closed.

“We had to suspend a majority of our airfield operations for the project, but our Airmen kept flying… accomplishing our mission, of deterring aggression, supporting allies and partners, and developing our own capabilities, from airfields across the Indo-Pacific,” said Col. Michael G. McCarthy, 8th Operations Group commander. “We viewed the runway closure as an opportunity to practice simultaneously operating from numerous locations, honing the new paradigms of distributed control and mission command, while time was taken to invest in our infrastructure back at Kunsan.”

Along with the aircraft, more than 600 personnel returned to Kunsan and are credited for the Wolf Pack’s success during displacement.

“Shutting down the runway and relocating our F-16 operations… that was a monumental lift,” said McCarthy. “Our operations and maintenance Airmen alongside the logistics professionals assigned to the 8th Army’s 25th Transportation Brigade and our hosts at Osan Air Base, managed unique challenges to ensure our ability to ‘Take the Fight North’ was never in question.  Those Airmen and Soldiers deserve all the credit for the Wolf Pack has been able to accomplish.”