The US and the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) have conducted aerial refuelling drills as part of the ongoing bilateral joint air exercise, called Max Thunder, at Kwangju Air Base in South Korea.
During the drill, ROKAF’s F-15K Slam Eagle fighter jet, belonging to the 122nd Fighter Squadron of the 11th Fighter Wing, was refuelled by the US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.
Flying at a speed of 600km/hour, the fighter was refuelled at the rate 7,500lt/min and conducted aerial fight drills against enemy aircraft from the Red Air Force team, comprising of personnel and aircraft from ROKAF’s training wing.
The F-15K fired five air-to-air missiles to destroy four enemy planes, with 12 pilots taking part in the drill.
Major Eom Il-yong, who piloted the F-15K fighter, stressed the urgency for ROKAF to introduce aerial refuelling tankers to expand its air operational reach and further strengthen sustainment capability.
South Korea’s defence ministry first revealed its plans to conduct aerial refuelling exercises every six months with the USAF in July 2011.
Max Thunder, which is scheduled to conclude on 19 May 2012, involves a total of 38 ROKAF aircraft including the F-15K, KF-16 fighter jets, alongside the US F-16, A-10 attack aircraft and the KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refuelling aircraft.
During the 12 day exercise, units from the South Korean Air Force and the US 7th Air Force conducted exercies that were designed to improve their ability to attack enemy forces and protect friendly air spaces.
Exercise Max Thunder aims to sharpen the forces’ responsive skills and their ability to work together in simulated, realistic combat situations.
Image: A USAF KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-15C fighter jet during a joint bilateral training. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Angelique Perez.