ROK Air Force
During peacetime, the Hankook Kong Gon (Republic of Korea Air Force, or RoKAF) constantly keeps an eye on the enemy and maintains a high level of combat readiness at all times, which allows it to immediately retaliate against the enemy should it launch provocations. During war, the tasks of the air force are: to acquire air superiority and thus prevent the enemy from flying to neutralize the enemy's will by destroying its main and potential war power; and supporting the ground and naval forces' operations.
Korea can trace its aviation heritage back to 1922 when An Chang-nam became the first Korean pilot to fly in his country's air space. Military aviation started about the same time. Korean expatriates desiring to support the independence movement in their homeland went through flight training at aviation schools in other countries. Korea's first six military pilots received their training in Curtiss JN-4s in 1920 at the Redwood flight school in northern California."
The original aircraft of the South Korean Air Force were discarded aircraft that were left behind by the Japanese after the war. The Japanese had simply laid down their arms at the end of the war and walked away. By force of circumstance, this "new" nation had to develop an air force from scratch at the end of the war.
As the communist forces of North Korea strengthened their airpower with Soviet equipment and as US forces withdrew from the peninsula in June 1949, South Korea asked for more military aid, including fighter aircraft. The United States denied the request to avoid increasing tensions in the region. Republic of Korea President Lee Seung-Man went about finding other avenues for procuring military hardware to respond to the North Korean military build up.
The Defence Reform Plan was submitted by the Ministry of National Defence to President Roh Moo Hyun on 01 September 2005. While the Army would be most heavily affected by the plan, the ROKAF strength would remain unchanged at 65,000. The The plan included a 27% reduction in regular forces from 68,100 in 2005 to 500,000 in 2020. The army was to be cut by 32% to 371,000 from the current 548,000. Naval forces would be reduced slightly from 68,000 to 64,000.
Under Defense Reform 2020, the 15-year military modernization program announced in 2005, the ROK Air Force will develop a structure suitable for air superiority and precision strike by constantly keeping a watchful eye over the enemy and maintaining a high-level combat readiness posture for immediate response, such as retaliatory strikes at peace time. The mission of the Air Force during war is to achieve air superiority and provide support for ground and naval operations, while securing the military operational capabilities throughout the Korean Peninsula. In order to enhance air operational effectiveness, the Air Force Northern Combat Command (AFNCC) is established along with the Air Force Southern Combat Command (AFSCC), 9 Fighter Wings, Air Defense Artillery Command (ADAC), and Air Defense and Control Wing (ADCW).
ROKAF's vision in the 21st century is the development of an "aerospace force securing national interest and security of ROK utilizing the Air, Space, and Intelligence elements." To achieve this goal, ROKAF is developing the concept of battlefield strategic management, and is endeavoring to secure weapons system that merges intelligence and precision strike capabilities. Also, the ROKAF strives to produce elite Air Force personnel equipped with both outstanding professional knowledge and with creative thinking, fit for the future battlefield environment.
ROKAF, in 21st century, seeks to be a force with highly responsive strategic capacity contributing to national security. Also, through rescue operations, assistance to civilians, peace keeping operations and other non-combat operations, ROKAF will maintain its pivotal role of securing and promoting national interest.
Most South Korean aircraft have been supplied by the USA and their insignia reflected this, with a red and blue yin-yang symbol replacing the U.S. white star. During the Korean War most ROKAF aircraft carried a large black 'K' on the fin. In April 2005 the ROKAF introduced a new roundel, with three black lines each side of the yin-yang symbol replacing the US style side bars, to more closely resemble the national flag.
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