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F-117s deploy to Kunsan

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephen Collier
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
More than 200 Airmen from Holloman AFB, N.M., and F-117A stealth fighter aircraft arrived Jan. 11 and integrated into the Wolf Pack this week after deploying to fulfill U.S. security responsibilities throughout the Western Pacific.

The deployment brings approximately 300 49th Fighter Wing pilots, maintainers and support Airmen, from Holloman, to Kunsan for the fourth time since their first air expeditionary force, or AEF tour to the Wolf Pack in 2003. During the current deployment, the Airmen will support a squadron of F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters.

Nighthawk Airmen, assigned to the newly-designated 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, become the third flying squadron under command of the 8th Fighter Wing. As with any unit that comes under command of the 8th FW, they also become members of the Wolf Pack family, a fact that Col. Jeff "Wolf" Lofgren, commander, says he hasn't forgotten.

"The professionals of the 9th EFS are now part of the Wolf Pack TEAM," he said. "We have executed the second part of our mission: Accept Follow-on Forces. Soon we will train for the last part of our mission to Take the Fight North as the 9th EFS joins us in the upcoming exercise and daily training."

Accepting Follow-on Forces

Once Airmen departed their Boeing 747 transport, the deployed personnel were swiftly bused to the base theater where Airmen from the 8th Mission Support Squadron processed them accordingly. Soon after, the Holloman Airmen arrived at Wolf Pack Park, prepared by the 8th Logistics Readiness and Civil Engineer Squadrons, to bed down for the day. This type of support is echoed by the Wolf Pack's second mission statement of "Accepting Follow-on Forces," which falls mostly to the men and women of the 8th MSS. Maj. Robin McKinley, 8th MSS commander, said Airmen under her command train to Accept Follow-on Forces constantly.

"It gives me great pride to watch the MSS 'Warriors' fulfilling the mission," Maj. McKinley said. "They work hard every day to take care of Wolf Pack Airmen, and this is just another example of that. [This deployment] allows my Airmen to actually do this piece of the [Wolf Pack] mission and not just talk about it."

Wolf Pack Park amenities include 30 South East Asia or SEA huts, two with connectivity for internet and television, morale tents, hot water for showers and washers and dryers to help make the deployed location as homely as possible. While these amenities are present, challenges still face the newest residents of the Wolf Pack. The Holloman Airmen, who are based out of a high-desert climate, typically don't encounter low temperatures, high winds or unexpected climate changes as well as of F-16s flying day and night mission sorties.

Mission as usual

While initial challenges face the deployed Airmen, their mission is as critical as at any other location. As operations commence and F-117s fly side-by-side with their F-16 counterparts, Airmen and aircraft are expected to meld into the mission quickly, becoming operational sooner than later. Maj. Ronald Rae, 9th EFS "Flying Knights" advance deployment team, said Holloman is well prepared for this deployment.
And the mission doesn't let up. Soon, stealth aircraft and their crews will be challenged with January's upcoming Peninsula Combat Employment Readiness Exercise.

This quarterly exercise challenges Seventh Air Force assets to come together and practice the overall mission of Taking the Fight North if hostilities ever took place.
As part of the Wolf Pack, F-117s integrate during the exercise to practice their mission of taking out high-value, high-threat targets that non-stealthy aircraft would be hard pressed to take on. Because the F-117 has deployed to Kunsan in the past, the aircraft and personnel, according to 8th Operations Group commander Col. Jon "Viper" Norman, are ready to accomplish the mission and excel in the upcoming exercise.