January 11, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A squadron of about 20 U.S. F-16s will arrive in Korea early next week for a four-month deployment to test the readiness of the U.S. forces in in the region and its ability to react should any new hostilities break out.
Airmen with the 20th FW generate F-16C block 50s during an operational readiness inspection at Shaw AFB on August 6th, 2007
The fighter jets will depart from Shaw AFB
in South Carolina and arrive in small groups at Kunsan Air Base along with some 300 U.S. airmen.
Kunsan AB is located in Gunsan, a port city southwest of Korean capital Seoul.
"The U.S. routinely evaluates its readiness and repositions forces under the Theater Security Package maintaining the capabilities necessary to meet military obligations in the Asia-Pacific region," said a statement from the U.S. 8th Fighter Wing.
The deployment of these fighter aircraft into the Pacific Command theater signifies the United States' continued commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region, said the statement.
The U.S. stations 28,000 troops in South Korea
to deter aggression from North Korea, but plans to reduce the number to 25,000 by December as part of its global troop realignment program. The U.S. has said reduced boots on the ground would be offset by the introduction of sophisticated weapons systems.