The 25th Fighter Squadron recently concluded EPIC FOG 24-1, a training event held at Osan Air Base, emphasising close air support (CAS), forward air control (FAC), and air-to-air refuelling. 

The exercise, conducted from December 11 to 15, 2023, brought together a collaborative effort involving joint and international partners, contributing to the squadron’s enhanced operational capabilities.

The exercise, which unfolded on the eastern side of the Korean peninsula, united various units, including the US Army’s 1st and 2nd Striker Brigade Combat Team, the 8th Fighter Wing, and the Republic of Korea Air Force 261st Air Refueling Squadron.

Capt. Keenan Allen, 25th Fighter Squadron’s current operations flight commander, highlighted the nature of the training, “The main goal of EPIC FOG was to exercise our support for large-scale combat operations in air-to-ground conflicts. This training is exactly what CAS and attack pilots dream of, as it challenges us to utilise the full diversity of our skill sets while enhancing our understanding of integration with our joint and international partners.”

During the training, several pilots from the 25th FS earned their airborne forward air controller (FAC(A)) qualifications, bolstering the squadron’s capacity to deliver coordinated joint air combat power. A FAC(A) plays a role in coordinating air support for ground troops, acting as an airborne link with ground-based joint terminal attack controllers.

The collaboration aspect of EPIC FOG 24-1 was emphasised as the 25th FS conducted air-to-air refuelling with the Republic of Korea Air Force KC-330s for the first time. Maj. Justin Ledvina, 25th Fighter Squadron director of operations, noted that this collaboration extended training time in the airspace and fostered mutual trust.

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“This was the first opportunity for many of our pilots to refuel with a ROKAF tanker. [Air-to-air refuelling] enhances our fighters’ capabilities by increasing both their operational range and the duration they can remain engaged in combat. The ROKAF’s support not only granted us extended training time in the airspace but also fostered mutual trust in our capabilities and an understanding of our limitations.”

In 2010, the USAF deployed three upgraded A-10C fighter jets to South Korea, replacing the A-10A aircraft previously operated by the 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base. The upgrade, initiated in 2005, enhances the A-10C’s capabilities to strike hidden North Korean artillery units using guided smart bombs.

Maj. Ledvina expressed the squadron’s commitment to future EPIC FOG exercises, “EPIC FOG allows us the opportunity to work with our joint and combined partners in a CAS-focused environment. From this integration, we’re able to learn from each other, enhance interoperability and strengthen relationships. Ultimately, the EPIC FOG series creates a more lethal joint and combined force.”