OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Pilots from the 25th Fighter Squadron and Republic of Korea air force's 237th Fighter Squadron performed combat operations during Buddy Wing 15-8, Dec. 15-18 here.
Buddy Wing is an exercise that provides a forum for pilots, maintainers and support personnel of both nations to train on their interoperability in the event of a contingency.
"It's an opportunity for the ROKAF and U.S. [Air Force] to get together, fly together for a couple days and share some tactics and lessons learned," said 1st Lt. Maurice Grosso, 25th FS pilot. "Should any conflicts kickoff here, we're going to be flying and fighting alongside our ROKAF counterparts. We need that interoperability to allow us to execute our mission and then to execute their mission without any hindrances."
The 237th FS pilots, based at Wonju Air Base, ROK, fly in the KA-1 Woongbi which has similar mission capability of forward air control like the Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt II.
"I went out with the KA-1 pilots and executed two missions as a forward air controller for two KA-1s and two A-10s," said Grosso. "It was a good opportunity to see how we execute FAC tactics and how well we communicate."
More often than not, the only communication between the pilots is through telecommunications in-flight, which could be a disadvantage said Grosso.
"[Buddy Wing] is an opportunity to get some face time with the ROKAF," said Grosso. "When we fly around the same airspace, we typically aren't able to integrate on the ground. It's definitely unique to have conversations [face-to-face]."
In addition to camaraderie building during the exercise, the pilots also left Osan to enjoy local restaurants.
"They've been very nice and helpful to us, making us feel at home," said Capt. Choi Jang Geun, 237th FS pilot. "There's a lot of nice restaurants and villages outside of Osan.
Not only did Buddy Wing help build relationships, it also aided the ROKAF pilots in broadening their knowledge of working in a joint environment.
"The biggest takeaway [for me] has been the techniques and tactics due to [our similar mission]," said Choi.
"This was my first time with Buddy Wing," he added. "It's been nice to train with the [25th FS], because the joint exercise gave us good experience by learning from each other."
The 25th FS hosts a Buddy Wing every year, and Choi, along with his colleagues, said they look forward to hosting their next event at Wonju in 2016.