A Change in Plans

Lingering concerns over wing cracks on some A-10s have caused the Air Force to modify its plans to send an A-10 unit to South Korea in March on a rotational deployment to relieve Army Apache attack helicopters there. Instead, the service will dispatch a contingent of 12 F-16s in their place, US Forces Korea said in a release Jan. 13. The decision to send the F-16s is “due to increased requirements for inspections and repairs to the A-10 fleet,” USFK acknowledged. Remember, it was last October when the Air Force grounded a sizable portion of the A-10 fleet due to wing cracks on those airframes with comparatively thinner skinned wings. As of the end of last year, many of these A-10s had not been cleared to return to flight. Briefing reporters earlier this week, Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, commander of 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern, said repairs on these A-10s should be complete by June. (AFPS report on his comments) USFK said the F-16s will arrive in South Korea before the Apaches depart to ensure “no gap in capability exists.” USFK announced last November that the Apache unit, the 1-2 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, would re-station to Ft. Carson, Colo., as part of a realignment of US forces on the Korean peninsula. (For more, read this Stars and Stripes report.)