January 28, 2016 (by SrA Kristin High) - Personnel from both U.S. and ROK Air Forces gathered to participate in Buddy Wing 16-1, held on January 25 to 29, 2016.
Pilots from the 36th FS and the 121st FS (RoKAF) pose for a photo before takeoff during Buddy Wing 16-1 at Seosan AB on January 28th, 2016. [USAF photo by SrA. Kristin High]
U.S. Airmen from the 36th Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit traveled to Seosan AB, ROK, to participate in the Buddy Wing exercise with ROK air forces personnel from the 121st Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, Seosan AB, RoKAF
“The Buddy Wing program is a combined fighter exchange between the U.S. and ROKAF to promote solidarity among any operations we may execute,” said Capt. Shannon Beers, 36th Fighter Squadron pilot. “Buddy Wing is a great opportunity to work with our Korean counterparts in deterrence exercises in the event of combat operations.”
A program conducted throughout the year, Buddy Wing is held across the peninsula and is used to sharpen interoperability between the allied forces.
“The ROKAF and U.S. alliance is not the matter of short-term but a long-term, everlasting one,” said Capt. Yim, Chung Su, 121st FS
pilot. “I hope we are able to continue to improve the combined exercise where more ROKAF and U.S. Airmen can participate.”
Designed to increase mutual understanding and enhance interoperability, Buddy Wing exercises allow participants from both nations the opportunity to exchange ideas and practice combined tactics.
“Our number one role here is deterrence and being capable in our credibility,” said Beers. “The better we work together, the better we will be able to live up to that role.
“Buddy Wing is a unique opportunity to work with the ROKAF, learn how they do things and teach them different techniques from our end,” he continued. “Interoperability is vital to our success. Knowing that I have capable combat partners and they also have faith in me helps to execute the mission here on the peninsula.”
Some of the challenges faced create better learning opportunities.
“The biggest challenges are working with unfamiliar terms and in different airspaces,” said Beers. “We’ll work through those differences in mission planning so we have a better understanding now versus in a real-world incident.
“A large part of being a fighter pilot is working on mission planning,” he added. “We conduct the planning to go over every detail including potential contingencies that may arise. In the event of a real world foreign aggression, we would have anticipated that problem and executed successfully.”
This Buddy Wing included four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 36th FS and more than 10 KF-16C Fighting Falcons from the 121st FS.
“My favorite part in the Buddy Wing is starting the exercise with U.S. from the beginning,” said Yim. “There have been some other combined exercises, but Max Thunder and Buddy Wing exercises are the only ones which we can train together from planning until the end of flight. In that sense, this exercise is really important and I like the part where we both can plan together.”
The alliance between the U.S. and ROK has been prevalent for more than 62 years.
“The success of Buddy Wing program is imperative to our success in the event of real world contingencies,” said Beers. “The more we practice, the better prepared we are in the war front.”