PHOTOS: ROKAF KA-1 and USAF A-10Cs Buddy Sqn air-to-airs

Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) KA-1 Woongbi aircraft and US Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs undertook a week-long training event in mid-July as part of the long-running Buddy Squadron (BS) programme, formerly known as the Buddy Wing.

ROKAF KA-1 and USAF A-10Cs
Republic of Korea Air Force/237th FS KA-1 Woongbi  05-001 flies in formation with USAF A-10C Thunderbolt IIs 80-0153 ‘OS’ and 81-0967 ‘OS’ from the 25th FS during Buddy Squadron 22-5 at Wonju Air Base, Republic of Korea, on July 12 ROKAF/Senior Master Sgt Hyung Kwon

The latest iteration, BS 22-5, which took place at Wonju Air Base, involved ROKAF KA-1s from the 237th Fighter Squadron (FS) at Wonju and USAF A-10Cs from the 51st Fighter Wing’s 25th FS ‘Assam Dragons’ at Osan Air Base, ROK. The programme has a rich history that ties both US and Republic of Korea Air Forces together. The tradition dates back 20 years and is used as an opportunity to build trust, introduce new tactics and exchange ideas for pilots, maintenance technicians and support personnel from both bilateral partners. BS 22-5 involved practice close air support and forward air controller mission sets.  

ROKAF KA-1 and USAF A-10Cs
Another view of the KA-1and A-10C formation on July 12 ROKAF/Senior Master Sgt Hyung Kwon

Capt James Pettet, 25th FS pilot/flight commander, said: “This is the first time in 3 years that we have had the opportunity to exercise Buddy Squadron operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal now is to continue these training events throughout the peninsula as this is a great chance for both countries to learn from each other.” According to Pettet, Osan will host future Buddy Squadron iterations, further improving interoperability between the USAF and ROKAF and continuing the tradition.

 Pettet continued: “The 25th FS cannot express enough gratitude to the 237th FS for their hospitality and professionalism during this exercise. We look forward to hosting the next Buddy Squadron and would like to say thank you to everyone involved.”

KA-1 and A-10Cs
One of the A-10Cs breaks formation and banks away to starboard during the Buddy Squadron 22-5 sortie on July 12 ROKAF/Senior Master Sgt Hyung Kwon