May 29, 2017 (by SrA Brittany A. Chase) - Pilots with the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons, assigned to Misawa Air Base, swapped out temporary duty locations after a month spent at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, respectively, May 26, 2017.
A1C. Evan Wilcox, a 14th AMU dedicated crew chief, holds up the 14th FS 'wood' symbol while a pilot taxis at Kunsan AB on May 19th, 2017. [USAF photo by SrA. Brittany A. Chase]
Due to routine flight line maintenance, planned years in advance, the 35th Fighter Wing has remotely operated from these locations for the past three-weeks and will continue until the beginning of July.
"Overall, this temporary duty location [Kunsan] has been business as usual for daily operations, with the exception of it giving us a great opportunity to practice how we would operate in a combat environment," said Lt. Col. Paul Schultz, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.
Being in Kunsan AB allowed 14th FS
pilots and maintainers to forge friendships and hone skills by integrating tactically with their Pacific partners.
"Training with the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons during the runway construction has allowed us to demonstrate our ability to operate and excel from any location," said Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld, 14th FS
detachment commander. "Deploying to Kunsan Air Base was a great opportunity for two Pacific Air Forces units to strengthen combat capabilities together, as well as ensure and demonstrate security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region."
Heusinkveld continued on to rave that the 35th Fighter Wing’s dedication and support to enhance combat readiness is second to none, whether at home or TDY.
"As the 14th pilots time here in Kunsan comes to an end, we are prepared to make the transition to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska for RED FLAG-Alaska 17-3," said Heusinkveld. "During our tenure at RF-A 17-3, our pilots will be subjected to a wide variety of imitation combat threats. This will give the pilots a chance to fly missions providing joint suppression of enemy air defenses, offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment."
RF-A 17-3 is a training exercise aimed to help improve combat readiness and multinational interoperability among participating bases.
"The 14th FS will continually show a strong F-16 Fighting Falcon SEAD presence as we transition to Eielson," added Heusinkveld. "Integrating with multiple airframes in Alaska will help pilots forge combat capabilities and utilize unique training opportunities they may not get while at home station."
Even though the 14th FS will be going out the door, the 35th Maintenance group maintainers will remain at Kunsan AB, maintaining aircraft for the 13th FS pilots.