Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RoKAF conducts air-to-air refueling exercises with USAF

RoKAF F-15K Slam Eagles refuel from a USAF KC-135R (ROKAF Photo)

South Korean newspapers Chosun Ilbo and The Korea Herald have both ran stories in their respective English editions about the Republic of Korea Air Force participating in aerial refueling exercises with the USAF for the first time in South Korean airspace over the West Sea.

Starting Friday the 16th of September, a KC-135R Stratotanker of the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, 18th Wing normally based out of Kadena AFB, Okinawa, will conduct refueling exercises with the RoKAF's F-15Ks and KF-16C/Ds. 16 RoKAF pilots (8 from each type) will participate in the exercise, which are expected to run till September 30th. The 16 pilots are expected to qualify for aerial refueling after this exercise, which will require four successful refueling attempts; two by day and a further two at night.

The RoKAF, which currently does not possess tanker aircraft, hopes to conduct similar exercises with the USAF every six months to allow it's refueling-qualified aircrew to stay current, while at the same time, setting a target of qualifying 16 pilots for aerial refueling every year.

Efforts by the RoKAF to acquire it's own tankers have stalled, mainly over budgetary concerns.

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