Wolf Pack flies despite runway repairs
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Kunsan Air Base's F-16 Fighting Falcons utilized an alternate landing surface while the runway here is temporarily closed for repairs, Sept. 25, 2014.
This is only the second time in the last year an ALS has been activated at Kunsan AB.
"The purpose of an ALS is for an emergency landing spot for jets, but in this case, it is being used for jets to land while our primary runway is decommissioned," said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Haner, 8th Operations Support Squadron airfield manager. "The activation we had in April was a test to make sure that this ALS was ready for use."
The main difference between the ALS and the runway is the width of the landing area; with the runway there is 150 feet, while the ALS only has 75 feet, added Haner. That makes it a bit more of a challenge to land on. On top of that, pilots must keep an eye out for obstacles such as defensive fighting positions, barriers and signs that are within the 200-foot restriction line.
Despite the additional challenges, the use of the ALS and ongoing construction are not expected to hinder Kunsan's ability to "Take the Fight North."
"Adversity does not affect the Wolf Pack's readiness and the activation of the ALS is one way we demonstrate that," said Lt. Col. Cary "Viper II" Culbertson, 8th Operations Group deputy commander. "Operating with the ALS involves the efforts of multiple units and agencies across the base to prepare, secure and maintain the ALS, as well as the aircraft that will be operating on it. Our continued flying is an exercise of 8th Fighter Wing combat readiness and illustrates our ability to operate in a number of contingencies. The bottom line is, we are still prepared to fight tonight."
Involving a largely coordinated effort of Kunsan Airmen from units such as 8 Civil Engineer Squadron, 8 OSS Airfield Management Flight, and 8 Security Forces Squadron, the ALS will be used during the duration of the repairs to the primary runway, which will last approximately six weeks.
"Right now we have about 500 concrete slabs needing to be replaced, which happens to be a third of the entire runway," Haner said. "The last time the runway had been repaired was 10 years ago, so it was definitely time for an upgrade."
According to airfield management, this operation would not have been possible without the combined effort from many Airmen and agencies at Kunsan.
"This entire process of having to repair the runway and use an ALS has indeed been a challenge," said Haner. "But the Wolf Pack has truly overcome that challenge and continues to surmount it all to make this mission a success."