June 14, 2007 (by MSgt. Sean P. Houlihan) - The two wings from 7th Air Force and Republic of Korea air wings from across the peninsula participated in a week-long Combined Large Force Exercise (CLFE).
USAF F-16D block 30 #87-0378 from the 80th FS and F-16C block 40 #90-0703 from the 80th FS stand by before takeoff on June 14th, 2007 at Kunsan AB. [USAF photo SrA. Steven R. Doty]
The final scenario culminated in a 38 aircraft training scenario, focusing on joint Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground tactics in the Eastern Training Complex June 14.
The exercise, which concluded with the debrief at Osan Air Base June 15, consisted of six F-16 and four A-10 aircraft from the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan, 14 F-16s from Kunsan and eight KF-16s, four F-4 aircraft and two F-5s from various Republic of Korea Air Force bases.
"This exercise allowed both the U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Forces the capability of 'Taking the Fight North' by executing an integrated deployment against adversary fighters in a real world air tasking order," Capt. Chris Perkins, 35th Fighter Squadron Pilot and 7th AF Mission Commander for the CLFE said, "CLFE's highlight areas for training such as language barriers, radio communications, and knowledge and execution of the air operation plan. Once these items have been discussed, it's time to work on the overall objectives for the mission."
'Take the Fight North' is the third and final tier of the mission for the 8th Fighter Wing. The other two are 'Defend the Base' and 'Accept Follow-on Forces.'
Captain Perkins said the overall objectives for this CLFE were to destroy 100 percent of all enemy targets, ensure safety of flight for reconnaissance aircraft and no loss of 'blue' or friendly aircraft. The priority targets included surface-to-air missile sites, artillery sites and ammunition depots.
"The mission was a success. All aircraft were able to make it to the fight" he said. "During the debrief we will be able to evaluate specific objectives. But the overall objective of the exercise, which is working the RoKAF
in an integrated package was a success."
In order to meet all of those objectives, 26 USAF and RoKAF Pilots, along with four Radar Intercept Controllers and numerous 7th Air Force and RoKAF leadership attended a two-day mission planning conference at 7th Air Force headquarters at Osan June 11 and 12. During the two-day conference, discussions included weather plans, radio communication, call signs, visual look out for 'red' or opposing aircraft, deconfliction of aircraft in the airspace and other safety of flight issues.
"With 38 aircraft in a 40 by 80 mile airspace, safety of flight is one of your biggest concerns," he said. "The airspace was separated by an East to West deconfliction line, target window times, and by altitude of flights. All of the pilots involved in the CLFE were vigilant to ensure they were in the right place at the right time."
The exercise itself only took 35 minutes to execute, but was well worth the time and effort put into all the planning at Osan, said the captain.
For Republic of Korea Air Force Capt. Jeong-geun Lee, pilot with the 38th Fighter Group 111th FS
here said the opportunity for his unit to fly with U.S. aviators is always a learning experience.
"This exercise was a good opportunity to practice combined forces exercise in case of war since we fight as same air packages," he said. "As we execute the pre-integrated testing order these practices allow us to compare tactics against similar air threat and enemy that doesn't occur during peninsula operational readiness exercises."
Captain Lee concluded the CLFE is important since in the post brief there is time spent analyzing the exercise in order to develop better tactics for the next exercise.
For Captain Perkins and the rest of the aviators involved, another notable accomplishment belongs to the Airmen working out on the flightline.
"A special thank you goes to the Airmen of the 80th Fighter Squadron Aircraft Maintenance Unit for getting the only two F-16s that are aggressor painted on the flight line mission ready for the CLFE," Captain Perkins said. "Push It Up!"
"Having the aggressor painted aircraft dramatically increased the training objective," he said of being able to easily identify the aircraft as foe. "Plus we [8th Fighter Wing] are using the aircraft to the best of our ability before they move to Eielson (Air Force Base, Alaska.)"
This is the second Combined Large Force Exercise that U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Forces have participated in this year. Flying units rotate the lead for coordination and the next exercise should be this fall.