Pil Sung

I’ve seen many references to Pil Sung on different Korea-related pages/boards, so I thought I’d “re-print” this article which appeared, originally, in the Aug. 10, 1990 MiG Alley Flyer. Is Pil Sung still there, and is it still used by American forces? Did the technology ever receive an upgrade? How has the training changed?? As usual, I have a ton of questions after reading these old stories for the first time in almost 25 years. Article and photos by then Sgt. Jeff Mulcahy, aka “Father;” aka “Padre.” Enjoy.ImageWhile evading the electronic warfare threat, pilots are able to unload their weapons on many different targets such as this battered deuce and a half, with simulated tanks in the background.

Screeching through the valley at mach speed, dropping his arsenal on the target below and speeding away. Sounds like another day for a pilot.

Many times this is the case as they sharpen their deadly skills. But what happens when the hunters become the hunted?

The 40-or-so Mountain Men of the 6351st Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron at Pil Sung Range are perfect examples of the “Pogo Syndrome,” in other words “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

The 6351st TEWTS is the enemy, to the pilots that is, who ply their skills on Mountain Man turf.

“Our mission is to give the best electronic warfare training to both US and Republic of Korea aircrews,” said Lt. Col. Larry D. Steichen, 6351st TEWTS commander. “Our guys do a great job of simulating anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles, which provides our pilots the opportunity to evade the simulated ordinances.

“Another thing we like to do, just to add a bit of realism, is shoot “smokey SAMS” in the direction of the aircraft so that the pilots can see the fire and smoke coming at them,” the colonel said.

It’s a lot of fun to shoot the smokey SAMs at the aircraft and see their reaction, agreed SSgt. Larry McKee, 6351st TEWTS independent medical technician, and Sgt. Leonard Pugh, OL-B, 2146th Communications Group.

They said that most of the pilots eventually learn to “ignore” the “dummy” ordinance, “but you can always tell a pilot who’s coming in for the first time, because they always freak out a little bit when they see the smokey SAMs heading their way,” Sergeant McKee said.

Pil Sung Range, a US Air Force class “B” range (because it has no manned tower), is the 7th Air Force’s only electronic warfare gunnery range.” It is located near the base off Mt. Taebeak, about a five-hour drive east of Osan AB.

Each morning, tow-man teams of electronic warfare specialists take a long, rough ride to their sites – four in all.

Form these sites, they provide the simulation of SAMs and AAA which the pilots pick up on radar.

ImagePil Sung Range’s Site five, one of four mountain sites, provides simulated threats of anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles to better U.S. and ROK aircrew’s skills at dealing with the electronic warfare threat.

The Mountain Men use the MPS-19 and the TRTG or Tactical Radiating Threat Generator, which simulates the anti-aircraft artillery. To simulate the surface-to-air missiles, they use the MPQT-3 and the AM/LQT-3.

Site four is the focal point for all missions. SSgt. Greg Payment is the spearhead at the site and is said to be able to pick-out any type of aircraft just by looking at the dot on his IFF or Identification Friend or Foe tracking system.

Sergeant Payment then relays the coordinates of aircraft he spots to the other sites, which in-turn, locate and simulate an attack. The actions provide important electronic warfare pertinent to a pilot’s survival, according to the range workers.

It’s a lesson with roots dating back to the war in Indochina. “Contrary to popular belief, most aircrews were lost in Vietnam because of a lack of experience with enemy radar air defense, and mostly to anti-aircraft artillery rather than the SAMs,” said TSgt. Dave Yingling, who provides quality control for the unit.ImageTargets at Pil Sung Range, like these simulated missiles on a truck, add to the realism of the electronic warfare battle that rages between the 6351st TEWTS Mountain Men and US and ROK aircrews each day.

“We feel that we provide a good threat,” said MSgt. Frederick Sommerfield, chief of radar maintenance branch. “We work hard and give 100 percent to our jobs. It shows, and we can say that we haven’t missed any missions because of equipment failure. We keep our equipment, as old as it is, well above the standards.”

According to Colonel Steichen, the Mountain Men may receive new, state-of-the-art equipment, perhaps as early as 1991, in the form of an unmanned threat emitter. The emitters will be placed in remote locations, centering on a control van from where they will be activated. This new operation will, however, require the same amount of manning as the old system, but will provide better training for the pilots.

With all the training Pil Sung provides for 7th Air Force fighter pilots, range officials would like to see it get better. “Our threats work, but we are unable to get up to the ‘90’s threat array,” said the colonel. “We are better than a World War II threat, and comparable to a Vietnam-era type of theat.”

Pil Sung’s range consists of a dirt landing strip with simulated aircraft taxing to take off; a SAM site; railroad yard; bridges; tunnels; simulated tanks; vehicle convoys; and, of course, an area for strafing runs. In addition, there is area for exploding live ordinance.

So while many pilots might think it fun to streak out of the clouds with tons of fire power, ready to deal a devastating load on the targets far below, they may want to think again. Down below, Pil Sung’s Mountain Men wait – ever ready to challenge the odds. In doing so, they provide increased combat capabilities for the combined US and ROK forces.

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Downed Pilots

From Osan Air Base, Nove. 1990. Photos by Sgt. Terry Blevins.Image 
A downed pilot, Capt. Brian Urbanesik, marks his position with a red smoke during a Search and Recovery Exercise south of Osan AB.ImageAn OA-10 Thunderbolt from Osan drops a flare, marking the position of downed pilots.

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