Twenty-four F-16s from the 79th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB, S.C., have deployed to Kunsan AB, South Korea, as part of a new rotation of combat forces. During their time on the peninsula, the unit, now designated for the duration of its stay as the 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, “will be fully integrated into all aspects” of the host 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan, including training with the Republic of Korea Air Force, according to Col. C.Q. Brown, who commands the Kunsan wing. USAF said the unit’s move is an “Air and Space Expeditionary Force deployment” meant “to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence in the Pacific region.” Since about 2004, the Air Force has rotated so-called “theater security packages” of combat forces into the Pacific, including bomber aircraft to Guam, to maintain a continual beefed-up presence and deter North Korean aggression while the US military is engaged heavily in Afghanistan and Iraq. Along with the 24 F-16s will be more than 300 personnel from Shaw’s 20th Fighter Wing to support the mission. (USAF report by MSgt. Sean Houlihan)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.