The 36th Fighter Squadron from Osan Air Base provided Suppression of Enemy Air Defense and Air Interdiction support in this year’s first iteration of RED FLAG-Alaska 22-1. RF-A 22-1 is a two-week long exercise that enables U.S. forces to integrate, train and fly with international forces under simulated air combat conditions in order to enhance combat readiness and strengthen the security of the Indo-Pacific. There are approximately 2,200 service members from the U.S. and allied countries participating in this exercise, enabling pilots to gain experience outside of their home stations to become better equipped for real world scenarios where multiple fighter squadrons will be employed simultaneously.
“RF-A 22-1 is a joint exercise designed to emulate the first 10 missions that a fighter pilot might experience in an actual war. The 36th FS is participating as fighters who degrade and suppress surface-to-air-missiles that might try and shoot down any of our friendly allied fighters and bombers. It’s important for the 36th FS to participate in RF-A 22-1 because we’re getting valuable integration training and employing weapons that we can’t regularly employ. Being able to employ actual ordnance is a tremendous skill that we’re going to bring home with us and developing our integration across multiple fighter platforms is going to be critical as we move forward in our careers,” said Capt. Matthew Croghan, 36th FS chief of standardizations and evaluations.
“It’s been a really great learning experience for me. I’ve learned how to integrate with other countries and aircraft, and what the mission planning cycle looks like to coordinate 20 to 30 aircraft at once,” said 1st Lt. Chandler Jax, 36th FS new wingman.
“Our job out here is to support the 36th FS, maintain proficiency and drop munitions. We provide the proper amount of aircraft they need in order to do their mission,” said 1st Lt. Ben Waters, 36th FGS, RF-A 22-1 officer in charge. “It’s been great; we work really well together. They tell us the amazing things they’re able to do and how we’ve helped in providing that.”
Croghan explained that if it wasn’t for the support from the 36th FGS during this exercise they wouldn’t have been able to get a jet off the ground. With the assistance from maintenance the 36th FS will be leaving this exercise with newly honed skills to bring back to Osan.
The 36th Fighter Squadron is part of the US Air Force’s 51st Operations Group at Osan Air Base, South Korea. It operates the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions. The squadron was first activated in 1917 as the 36th Aero Squadron and served in France during World War I, although the war ended before the unit saw combat. It has been continuously active since 1930 as a fighter squadron. The squadron mission is to conduct suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), air interdiction, close air support, and counter-air missions both day and night. It participates in the defense of South Korea and operates further afield. During its 101-year history, the 36th Fighter Squadron has flown 21 different types of aircraft, received 22 unit citations and accumulated 24 service and campaign streamers.