35th FW surge proves regional interoperability, security

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 35th Fighter Wing conducted surge operations this week during a training deployment to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 16.

Due to routine flight line maintenance at Misawa AB, the 14th Fighter Squadron relocated to Kunsan, giving maintenance teams and pilots the ability to train with partners by integrating into their day-to-day operations until runway construction is complete.

“Because of the surge operations this week, we are generating double the sorties pilots normally fly,” said 1st Lt. Kayla Pipe, the 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “This week our maintainers are working 12-hour shifts so they can generate 36 sorties per day rather than the 18 sorties our maintainers are used to.”

Although surge operations are taxing on Airmen, the integration with Kunsan Airmen provides maintainers and pilots the opportunity to rehearse their primary mission sets.

“The main thing we are doing out here (Kunsan) is integrating with the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons while practicing our basic mission sets,” said 1st Lt. Ty Perich, a 14th FS scheduler. “These include defensive counter air, offensive counter air escort for strikers (other fighter jets) and being able to practice our primary mission: suppression of enemy air defense.”

Pilots and maintenance professionals continue to demonstrate the tenacity and dedication the 35th FW has in maintaining its readiness for the mutual defense of Japan despite the current runway construction. The movement of forces also showcases the wing's abilities to operate from locations across the theater, a key strength for not only Team Misawa, but Pacific Air Forces as a whole.

“It’s been great being able to be out here at Kunsan and integrating with the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons,” said Perich. “Being out here benefits all involved because they don’t see a lot of SEAD mission and in turn we see how they function as strike players. Getting to practice together is really beneficial.”

The movement to Kunsan provides the Wild Weasels key opportunities to maintain their proficiency and continue to train while away from home station. Additionally, the training Misawa pilots and maintainers receive operating from less familiar locations and alongside other units is invaluable, Pipe said.

“So far our Airmen are staying really positive,” added Pipe. “They’ve been doing a great job especially while away from our home station and families while at Kunsan. They haven’t missed a single sortie and are doing a fantastic job.”