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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — U.S. fighter pilots who currently train twice a year with their South Korean counterparts have found it so rewarding they plan to do it monthly.

The 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base specializes in close-support missions — fighters attacking enemy ground targets while friendly troops are close by. The squadron, nicknamed the “Assam Draggins,” flies the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, known as the “Warthog.”

The Draggins hosted mock combat training earlier this month with the 238th Fighter Squadron, a South Korean air force unit out of Wonju Air Base. The Koreans sent a pair of two-seater A-37 Dragonfly close- support fighters and about eight personnel.

The exchanges are part of the “Buddy Wing” program in which each of the four U.S. flying squadrons in South Korea has a Korean partner squadron. It helps the two air forces learn to work together as they would in war.

Capt. Matt Kouchoukos, an A-10 pilot and the 25th Fighter Squadron’s project officer for the recent exchange, said the units have discussed flying together on a monthly basis “to turn our training into a regular occurrence and not a special occurrence."

“In general, when we go out and train we try to train as if it was the real thing, and … it helps it be a lot more realistic because that is how we would fight,” said Capt. Matt Sallee, a Draggins A-10 pilot.

The recent mock combat scenario envisioned friendly ground troops in contact with an enemy force and calling for close-air support.

The Dragonfly served as the forward air controller, guiding the two A-10s onto the target.

The Warthogs simulated firing their 30 mm gun, 7.62 mm rockets, and dropping 500-pound Mark 82 general-purpose bombs on the targets, Kouchoukos said.

After the mock attack, “We came back and we debriefed together with our Korean counterparts and we reviewed the heads-up display tape from the A-10,” he said.

“That’s the best part of the Buddy Wing thing,” added Sallee. “We can talk about lessons learned … face to face.”

“I think it helps a lot because those four pilots can now take the information that they learned visiting our squadron and bring that to all of the pilots in their squadron,” Kouchoukos said. “In a similar way, my wingman and I are able to take the information that we learned from flying with them and share that with the other 40 pilots in our squadron.”


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