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NEWS | June 27, 2024

Buddy Squadron 24-4: Increasing interoperability, defending the Pen

By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ross, 8th Fighter Wing

Members of the Wolf Pack traveled to Cheongju Air Base, Republic of Korea, to participate in Buddy Squadron 24-4 on June 24, 2024.

Airmen assigned to the the 80th Fighter Squadron and 80th Fighter Generation Squadron participated in the five-day exercise meant to increase interoperability while employing airpower jointly with Republic of Korea Air Force mission partners.

“Buddy Squadron events are put on between the ROKAF and 7th Air Force to integrate U.S. and ROKAF flying units,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Calvin Boerwinkle, 80th FS Buddy Squadron 24-4 project officer. “For this one, we deployed from Kunsan to Cheongju for a week of flying integration with the 152nd Fighter Squadron.”

These training events reinforce the 8th Fighter Wing’s ability to deliver mission capable F-16 Fighting Falcons anywhere on the Korean peninsula.

ROKAF Maj. Cha, Seungmin, 152nd FS F-35 pilot, whose first assignment as a pilot was with the 111th FS TIGERS at Kunsan AB, was excited to reintegrate with the 80th FS after spending a time doing so early in his career.

“I’m very happy to be with the JUVATS again and I feel like I’m home.”

He also reiterated the importance of training exercises like Buddy Squadron and how it helps optimize the tactics that both nations can employ on the battlefield.

“The main goal of Buddy Squadron is to integrate our warfighting capability into a ROK-US combined air power,” said Cha. “We are also focusing on how to counter non-military (grey-zone) threats and how to deliver our air power to other warfighting domains.”

The tactics, techniques and procedures employed by coalition forces were tested over two mission sets: offensive counter air and XINT missions.

“The XINT mission set involves working with the ROKAF F-35s to locate, target and kill high priority ground assets that are assigned by higher headquarters,” said Boerwinkle. “The second and third mission sets are offensive counter-air, which is fighting our way into a contested battle space by eliminating any adversary air threats first, and finally, going in to drop bombs on any high priority targets for that mission.”

Buddy Squadron is regularly held at different bases around the Korean peninsula to give pilots from both countries a chance to learn with and from each other while strengthening shared tactics, techniques and procedures.

“I think this is my first time integrating with the ROKAF flying units directly and its been a great experience so far getting to know them on a personnel level and understanding where they’re coming from,” said Boerwinkle. “I think it's valuable to be here on their base to see how they do their operations, learn from their ops and hopefully teach them a thing or two about how we do ops in the USAF.”

​The Buddy Squadron training exercises highlight the 8th FW’s commitment to ensuring that when called upon, will respond quickly and decisively to accept follow-on forces, defend the peninsula and take the fight north.