US and South Korean forces begin Exercise Max Thunder 16


Max Thunder

Airmen from the South Korean Air Force units are participating in a bilateral training exercise, code-named Max Thunder 16, with members of the US Air Force (USAF), Marine Corps at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.

The two-week exercise will witness participation from approximately 1,200 US personnel in support of various aircraft including F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-18 Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.

Additionally, 640 South Korean personnel will participate in the exercise.

USAF Seventh Air Force commander lieutenant general Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy said: "Every year, Max Thunder serves as an excellent opportunity for US and (South Korean air force) fighter pilots to train side by side and gain valuable experience they will need if the Korea airpower team is required to go into aerial combat together.

"The US's commitment to the security of (South) Korea is ironclad.

"The US's commitment to the security of (South) Korea is ironclad."

"The US military aircraft come to Korea from across the Pacific to participate in this exercise, making a tremendous display of the capabilities the US brings to this alliance."

The large-scale employment aims at strengthening the US and South Korea interoperability with dissimilar aircraft, enabling aircrew members to be battle-ready for any potential situation.

Held twice a year, once on Gwangju AB hosted by the South Korean Air Force and on Kunsan AB by the USAF, Max Thunder aims to sharpen the US and Korean Forces' responsive skills and their ability to work together against a hostile force during combat operations.

The exercise represents the air component-led portion of Exercise Foal Eagle, and fosters bilateral aerial training by simulating dog fights, quick alerts, close air support missions, and the overall theme of employing and deploying a joint coalition and overcoming obstacles.


Image: A pre-flight inspection on an EA-18 Growler during Max Thunder 16 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson.