April 1, 2016 – A dozen F-16s will arrive on the the flightlines of Osan Air Base, South Korea, in April as North Korea continues to threaten its adversaries and defy sanctions with new ballistic missile tests.
The Fighting Falcons and 300 Air National Guardsmen from the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minnesota, are deploying for a routine theater security package to the base, just 40 miles south of Seoul, beginning April 10, according to a release. The Air Force regularly deploys fighter aircraft for these packages, which help maintain regional security and stability against threats.
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Osan is home to the 51st Fighter Wing and its squadrons of F-16s and A-10s. The base just completed Beverly Midnight 16-01, a week-long exercise testing airmen’s abilities, during a heightened state of readiness, to provide combat ready forces for close-air support, air-strike control, forward air control-airborne, combat search and rescue, counter air and fire, and interdiction in the defense of the Republic of Korea.
The Guard’s “mission is to support our nation’s continued commitment to regional stability and security around the world,” said Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard.
“The ‘Bulldogs’ are both prepared and excited to help America fulfill its charge in the Asia-Pacific theater of operations,” said Col. Jon Safstrom, 148th Fighter Wing commander. “Movement of U.S. Air Force theater support packages into the region has been a routine and integral part of U.S. Pacific Command’s force posture since March 2004.”
On Tuesday, North Korea fired a projectile, believed to have been a short-range missile, one of several it’s launched since the United Nations adopted tougher sanctions to limit the country’s nuclear programs and the U.S. and South Korea began conducting large scale exercises in the South. Their threats have prompted the U.S. to conduct show of force flights in the region.
F-16s were at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in late January after the country launched a so-called hydrogen bomb test. In February, the Air Force sent four F-22 Raptors over the peninsula in a clear response to an additional long-range rocket launch. The U.S. Air Force and its South Korean counterparts also held a training exercise on Feb. 22 with A-10 Thunderbolts.