May 11, 2009 (by 1st Lt. David Herndon) - U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force personnel began the second 7th Air Force-designed Max Thunder bi-lateral air training exercise on May 7, 2009.
USAF F-16C block 40 #88-0482 from the 80th FS takes off during an exercise. Similar jets from the squadron will take part in Max Thunder at Kunsan AB from May 11th, 2009. [USAF photo by SrA. Gustavo Gonzalez]
The training opportunity aims to test aircrews' war-fighting skills in realistic combat situations that combine both RoKAF
and USAF flying and maintenance personnel.
"The experience gained from the second annual large-force employment training exercise will not only minimize potential combat losses, but will also demonstrate interoperability between the U.S. military and ROK military forces on the peninsula," said Capt. Ben Vickers, 8th Fighter Wing MAX THUNDER project officer.
The exercise currently involves more than 10 flying units and nearly 70 aircraft from Korea and Japan.
The captain added that U.S. Air Force F-16s and F-15s are currently teaming with ROKAF KF-16s, F-15Ks, F-4Es, RF-4Cs and F-5s to enhance overall interoperability.
MAX THUNDER 09-01 seeks to replicate the scenarios and planning cycles of RED FLAG Nellis and according to the captain, increase USAF and ROKAF commitments to deter conflict in the region.
"Exercises like MAX THUNDER and RED FLAG Nellis are important to the readiness of the USAF and our allies to ensure we are battle-ready and trained for combined air operations," said Captain Vickers.
Last year's exercise served the same purpose, while gearing ROKAF F-15Ks up for their first participation in RED FLAG Nellis.
Participating U.S. Air Force units include the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; 36th Fighter Squadron, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea; 44th Fighter Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan; and the 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.
"The hope is to normalize and improve the operations and procedures used by our two nations' air forces in combined arena," said the captain.
The exercise will continue through May. 15.