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F-117 Nighthawks train in South Korea alongside F-16 Fighting Falcons

June 7, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A squadron of 15 F-117A Nighthawks flew to South Korea last week as part of an Air Expeditionary Forces (AEF) rotation. It provides F-117 pilots and crews with the opportunity to train alongside the F-16 and to conduct operations in a deployed environment with a variety of weather conditions.

USAF F-16C block 40 #89-2060 from the 8th FW at Kunsan and an F-117 Nighthawk from the 49th FW at Holloman AFB, share the taxiway. [USAF photo by MSgt. Val Gempis ]

The 49th Fighter Wing announced the deployment on Monday. The F-117 stealth fighters took off from Holloman AFB, New Mexico and flew to Gunsan Air Base, South Korea, some 270 km south of Seoul.

The deployment also tests the unit's ability to manage the movement of people and assets.

It is the third time that US stealth fighters from Holloman have been deployed to the Gunsan since 2003. This standard AEF deployment typically lasts for about four months.

People, airplanes, and equipment of the 49th Fighter Wing played a key role in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The wing's F-117s dropped the first bombs against an Iraqi leadership target in Baghdad on March 19, 2003. In all, F-117 pilots flew more than 80 missions and dropped nearly 100 enhanced guided bomb units against key targets.

About 32,500 US troops are currently stationed in South Korea. The deployment comes as North Korea threatens a nuclear weapons test.