Airmen from the Kunsan Air Base (AB), South Korea, participated in a joint training exercise with members of the US Air Force (USAF), Marine Corps and the South Korean Air Force units at Gwangju Air Base.

The exercise was code-named Max Thunder 15-1. It included more than 750 US personnel, nearly 170 of those hailing from Kunsan AB, and was focused on strengthening interoperability between the US and South Korea airpower assets.

The large-scale employment exercise aimed to boost US and South Korea interoperability with dissimilar aircraft, enabling aircrew members to be battle-ready for any potential situation.

Max Thunder 15-1 deployed forces commander and 51st Fighter Wing vice commander colonel Brian Carr said: "These intricate scenarios continue to focus on the combined and joint integration of air power across many disciplines while enhancing the capability of (South Korea) and US flying units to conduct combat air operations together."

"The large-scale employment exercise aimed to boost US and South Korea interoperability with dissimilar aircraft."

8th Fighter Wing commander colonel Ken Ekman said: "This iteration of Max Thunder was a great opportunity for Wolf Pack Airmen to work alongside our fellow air force, marine and (South Korea) counterparts at an unfamiliar base.

"Practising realistic combat scenarios in a different environment not only sharpen our own capabilities, but make us stronger as a combined force.

Max Thunder 15-1 exercise director and 7th Air Force training chief major Erik Axt said: "We were able to plan and execute more sorties than at any previous Max Thunder, which provided ample training opportunities for our pilots to practise combined operations."

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.

Specifically, the drill 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: An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, to participate in exercise Max Thunder 15-1 at Gwangju Air Base. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Senior Airman Taylor Curry.