Osan aircraft, equipment, personnel return from Suwon

by Tech. Sgt. Travis Edwards, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- After 45 days of launching and landing at Suwon Air Base, Republic of Korea, the 25th and 36th Fighter Squadrons brought their A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-16 Fighting Falcons back home here Sept. 15.

"It was great to hear the familiar sounds of our jets flying overhead after such a long time away," said Col. Andrew Hansen, 51st Fighter Wing commander. "I am truly proud of our team; we were able to overhaul a runway, perform maintenance and flying operations from two alternate locations in order to maintain proficiency, and then move all of our air assets and equipment back here; we completed all of this without reducing our readiness."

During the displacement to Suwon, the 25th and 36th Fighter Squadrons were able to generate approximately 450 sorties totaling nearly 800 flying hours despite the fact that nearly half the air assets were deployed in support of Red Flag-Alaska.  While at Suwon, the 25th FS was able to maintain 100 percent mission capable rate and the 36th FS had zero repeat or recurring discrepancies, due largely to the team of maintenance Airmen working the aircraft.

"It took some extra time to get into a rhythm, but once we did, it was business as normal," said Senior Airman Dillon Bunch, 25th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist for the A-10 Thunderbolt II. "We're definitely glad to be back at Osan, nothing beats having the parts you need when you need it instead of having to wait for parts to arrive."

Bunch transited to and from Suwon AB for approximately five weeks to work on A-10s during the displacement.

The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron, who operates the U-2 Dragon Lady, was also displaced to Suwon during the refurbishment of the runway. Despite the extended commute (about an hour and a half), the 5th RS "Black Cats" were able to log more than 400 flight hours.

Given the challenge of deployments and the constant movement of assets and personnel, Hansen praised his Airmen for continuing the mission.

"Your work has paid huge dividends to the installation," said Hansen.  "We made significant repairs to our runway that will enable us to continue operating at the highest sortie utilization rate in the Air Force and enable us to maintain the largest flying hour program in PACAF (Pacific Air Forces). Thank you for leading the charge!"

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