Osan AB, South Korea Capt. Kevin Liu, deputy director of the commander’s action group here at Osan, said North Korea is an “up close, persistent, and dangerous threat to the Republic of Korea.” Though long-range artillery normally is considered a tactical weapon, here on the Korean peninsula “it is a strategic threat,” said Liu. North Korea’s 170 mm and 240 mm multiple rocket launchers pose a significant threat to the greater Seoul metropolitan area, which includes about 26 million people—roughly half of the Korean population base. “Fired in volleys they would be able to strike Seoul and the surrounding area, potentially causing mass civilian casualties, significant collateral damage, and gross economic destruction,” he said. That’s why the motto, “Fight Tonight,” is ingrained in everyone stationed here, from the lowest ranking airman to the three-star general in charge of 7th Air Force. “Every time you go up there and train, and every time you go up there to fly, it’s possibly one of the last opportunities you’ll have prior to wartime operations,” said Capt. Zachary Krueger, an A-10 pilot with the 25th Fighter Squadron.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.