Air defenders of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment “Guardians” were provided a unique opportunity in Gunsan July 9. Five Soldiers and one Korean Augmentee to the U.S. took a 20-minute drive from their headquarters at Kunsan Air Base to visit the Republic of Korea Air Force’s 517th Air Defense Artillery (Hawk) Battery. With more than 150 ROK airmen assigned, the 517th ADA Battery’s mission is to defend the Kunsan marina from enemy aircraft. They accomplish this mission by utilizing their primary weapon: the surface-to-air Hawk missile system.
The Hawk missile system was initially deployed by the U.S. Army in 1959 but was replaced by the Patriot missile system in 1994. Task Force 2-1 ADA deployed to Iraq in 1991 with Hawk and Patriot capabilities. One Soldier noted the likeness of the two systems during his visit with the ROK Hawk unit. “The Patriot and Hawk systems both employ surface-to-air missiles to engage an air threat,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jennifer Willis, Patriot missile system maintainer. “They have similar components and are operated using a nearly universal air defense language.”
Airmen of the 517th Battery and Soldiers of Alpha Battery discussed the system capabilities and their common tactics, techniques and procedures with handling them.
“Interoperability is a key component to the joint and combined air defense employed in South Korea,” said 2nd Lt. Ethan Augustine, fire control platoon leader. “While our systems may not necessarily be linked together; we are ultimately supporting the same mission in defending this country.”
The 517th ADA Battery Commander, ROK Maj. Kihyun Kim said this visit marks the first U.S. Army visit to their tactical site.
“It was a pleasure meeting with the U.S. Army Soldiers,” he said. “Even though our nations are different, we are the same in air defense.”
“I sincerely hope that we are able to foster this friendship for the betterment of future operations and the strengthening of the Alliance,” he said.