October 26, 2010 (by SSgt. Amanda Savannah) - More than 170 Wolf Pack Airmen returned to Kunsan Air Base, October 23 after participating in the fourth annual Max Thunder exercise at Kwangju Air Base, ROK, October 15-22.
USAF F-16D block 40 #89-2172 from the 80th FS flies on October 21st, 2010 in support of exercise Max Thunder 10-02. [USAF photo by MSgt. Jason Wilkerson]
The 8th Fighter Wing deployed 176 pilots, operations Airmen, maintainers and support personnel, along with 10 aircraft, to participate in the exercise, which replicated the scenarios and planning cycles of RED FLAG Nellis and provided invaluable large-force employment training for U.S. and Republic of Korea military personnel.
"We flew 16 sorties per day over four days, and only lost two (takeoffs) to maintenance," said Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, 80th Fighter Squadron commander. "That is an outstanding maintenance generation rate."
"Maintainers and support personnel from the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 8th Maintenance Squadron and 8th Maintenance Operations Squadron worked together hand in hand as one team to keep the aircraft mission capable," said Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th MXS operations officer. "We work well together at home station, but at a deployed location teamwork is key. The results speak for themselves ... a 97-percent mission-capable rate with an 80-percent aircraft commit rate is outstanding."
Colonel Wilkerson said the exercise overall went very well.
"This was the first time Kunsan has deployed to Kwangju in quite some time, and we went in with a lot of questions," he said. "But the training for the U.S. and ROK was a superb event and the opportunity to fly alongside our ROK counterparts was an outstanding opportunity, and one we will seek again."
During the week-long exercise, U.S. Air Force F-16s from Kunsan and Osan Air Bases flew with ROK Air Force KF-16s, F-15Ks and F-4Es from Daegu, Cheongju and Seosan Air Bases. This year also featured the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Base, Alaska, as the simulated "enemy threat."