Pilots protect ROK through airpower demonstration

by Airman 1st Class Dillian Bamman, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part series looking into the Airmen of Osan who support global deterrence.

In effort to highlight the alliance in the host nation, F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots from the 36th Fighter Squadron aided a B-52 Stratofortress in a joint airpower demonstration Jan. 12 here.
 
Teaming up, the U.S. and ROK air forces showcased to the world they’re ready for any contingency according to two 36th FS pilots who flew in the demonstration.
 
Maj. Jason Vanta and Capt. Nathan Skavdal shared their accounts and insight on flying with the ROK pilots.
 
“It wasn’t so much a practice of going to war, but a demonstration of our common (combat) capabilities and our ability to work together,” said Skavdal. “Even though it was a relatively simple mission, it’s something we can bring to any theater at any time.”
 
Vanta and Skavdal worked alongside F-15K Slam Eagle pilots during the demonstration and delivered a presence in the Korean skies.
 
“In the past years [the 51st Fighter Wing] has been here, we’ve worked very closely with our ROK counterparts,” said Skavdal. “Even in the 18 months I’ve been here, I can see the progression their pilots are making.”
 
In addition to working with the ROKAF, the 36th FS trains to work with other Department of Defense assets like the B-52.
 
“As a fighter squadron, the 36th is able to rapidly put jets in essentially any configuration to complete the mission,” said Vanta, who flew as the mission commander during the demonstration. “Whenever they need us, we’re able to [deter the aggression] as shown in our past.”
 
“In this demo, [the U.S. Air Force] was able to send up a nuclear-capable bomber, showing what we can offer,” he added.
 
In order to deliver this amount of airpower, the 36th FS worked 24-hour operations to ensure mission capability, which according to Vanta was rewarding in the end.
 
“Pride in our work gets pretty high when we get to do interesting missions like this,” said Vanta. “Flying with a B-52 on the right and an F-15[K] on the left in a show of force definitely increases morale for me.”
 
Whether a normal sortie or a joint-flying mission, the 36th FS stands ready to deter any aggression and defeat any attack.

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