Pilsung (Pil-sung) Range
Korean Tactical Range (KOTAR)
Pil Sung ("Sure Victory") is located almost dead center in the Republic of Korea, in Kangwon Province adjacent to the Mt. Taebaeksan Provincial Park. It is jointly operated by the US Air Force and the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). Pil-sung Range is an isolated unit, about 5 hours from Seoul, located at the foot of Mt Taebeck, one of the highest mountains in Korea. It is 160 miles due east of Osan and takes about 4 1/2 hours travel time by road. Pil Sung has a weapons range used by many combat units in the Pacific, as well as 7 radar sites that simulate the Air Defenses pilots might encounter in combat.
The Korea Tactical Range (KOTAR) is located near Pilsung, South Korea. American Forces Korea Network (AFKN, subsequently Armed Forces Network Korea or AFNK) provided radio and television programming, news and information to all United States military personnel, civilians and their families serving on the Korean Peninsula. TV and radio programming consisted partly of satellite-delivered material provided by the AFRTS Broadcast Center in Riverside, California, and the rest was locally produced. AFNK had its headquarters facility in Seoul, but controlled an AM radio transmitter at the KOTAR.
Detachment 1, 51st Range Squadron in Pil Sung provided electronic warfare training for USAF, US Army, US Navy/Marines, and Republic of Korea aircrews. In 1992 there were around 45 US Air Force personnel and about 250 ROKAF personnel orgainzed into squadrons of the US and Korean Air Forces. It was subsequently manned by US and Korean civilian contractors. There was a dining facility, Club, gym facilities, cable TV, video library and one medic. During deployments to places like Pilsung, Nightmare and Koon-ni Ranges for live-fire close air support training, enlisted terminal attack controllers, or ETACs, control missions sent to them by the Air Support Operations Center. ETACs directed the air support for Army units in combat and field training exercises.
The Koon-ni Range was previously the location for 45 to 50 percent of 7th AF bombing sorties. Due to the high turnover rate of air crews (most serving one-year tours) it was especially important for pilots to train at the basic training environment of Koon-ni Range. Before pilots could fly at the other 2 ranges (Chik-do and Pilsung), they needed to train at Koon-ni.
After a more than 3 year break, Navy F-14 aircrews returned to Korea to practice forward air control tactics with local A-10 pilots. During their 30 July through 11 August 2000 visit, aircrews from the USS Kitty Hawk's Carrier Air Wing Five (CAW-5), flew joint training sorties with 25th Fighter Squadron A-10s at Pil Sung Range. The visiting naval detachment and 5 F-14s deployed to Osan from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. The training was held in Korea, because the mission required dropping live ordnance and naval air crews were not allowed to carry live weapons out of Japan for training missions. The only suitable bombing range for this training in Northeast Asia was the Pil Sung Range, according to Navy standards. Being that it was a training mission for the Navy, Navy aviators did most of the forward air controlling. The A-10 pilots helped the Navy's training by serving as strikers.
When the Koon-ni range was closed in August 2005, upgrades were planned for the Chik-do range to make up for the loss in training capability offered at Koon-ni. Those upgrades were planned to be completed by Summer 2006, and combined with upgrades to the Pilsung range, would offer a long-term combined solution to the closure of the Koon-ni range. The Pilsung arrangement by itself was rejected because of the size of the facility and the heavy existing ROKAF presence. It had been used as USAF training site before, but not to the scale of operations at Koon-ni. The US Navy also rotated forces through Korea to traing using the Pilsung facility. Facilities at Chik-do were sought, but even the eventual completion of upgrades to those facilities left a major gap in training capacity for US forces in Korea.
In December 2006, an A-10 from the 51st Fighter Wing on a training mission at the Pilsung range accidentally released a 24 pound BDU-33/B training bomb. The concrete filled device hit a South Korean wire factory, going through its two stories before lodging in a ground floor office. The USAF immediately launched an investigation into the nature of the incident.
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