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The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) units have performed a semi-annual, bilateral training exercise with the US military at Kunsan Air Force Base in South Korea.

The training involved more than 1,300 US airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines who worked in along elements of the South Korean Air Force. Exercise Max Thunder 14-2 featured simulated combined flying operations against hostile forces.

Participants included the South Korean 38th Fighter Group from units both on and off the peninsula, including 12th Marine Aircraft Group F/A-18 Hornets, US 7th Fleet EA-18G Growlers, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Patriots, as well as South Korean F-15Ks, KF-16s, F-5s and F-4 fighter jets.

US 8th Fighter Wing and the Max Thunder 14-2 Expeditionary Force commander colonel Ken Ekman said: "Max Thunder exercises give us the opportunity to sharpen our joint and combined capabilities with our (South Korean) allies.

"By improving our interoperability in these challenging scenarios, the (South Korean) and US pilots will be ready to fight as an effective team in any contingency.

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"Max Thunder exercises serve to strengthen our combined readiness and strengthen the close relationships between the military forces of our two nations."

"Max Thunder exercises give us the opportunity to sharpen our joint and combined capabilities with our (South Korean) allies."

During the exercise, the US forces coordinated with ROKAF personnel on all aspects of training, including planning, large force employment tactics and debriefing for the largest flying exercise held on the Korean Peninsula.

Max Thunder is held twice a year, once on Gwangju Air Base hosted by ROKAF and on Kunsan Air Base by the US Air Force. The exercise aims to sharpen the US and Korean forces’ responsive skills and their ability to work together against a hostile force during combat operations.

Specifically, the drill 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.

According to Ekman, the exercise supports mission commander training and exposes younger pilots to large-scale, high-threat flying in a peacetime environment. This helps them to become more successful and be able to survive in their first actual combat missions.

Image: A South Korean Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle lands during Max Thunder 14-2 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / senior airman Divine Cox.

Defence Technology