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Sun, Jun 10, 2007

USAF, South Korean Pilots Participate In Joint Training Exercise

Keeping The North In Line

Members of the 8th Fighter Wing and the Republic of Korea air force teamed up for a joint training exercise June 8 at Kunsan Air Base.

Two South Korean F-16s from the 111th Fighter Squadron, two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th Fighter Squadron, Airmen of the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and Airmen from Osan Air Base, South Korea, participated in air combat tactics to learn how to employ together as a lethal force.

"We have had social interactions, but this is the first time since the 111th FS moved here that we have briefed, flown and debriefed together on a dedicated mission," said Capt. Luther Cross, a 35th Fighter Wing pilot. "This has given us a better sense of teamwork."

The exercise is part of the joint fighter exchange program designed to improve interoperability between the US Air Force and the South Korean fighter squadrons, Captain Cross said.

"The program's focus is to allow the ROKAF and our Air Force's fighter pilots to exchange ideas, discuss tactics and fly missions together in a controlled environment," he said.

Captain Jeong-geun Lee, a pilot with the 111th FS, thought the exercise was an excellent opportunity for the exchange of ideas.

"I thought this was a good chance for both of us to develop and improve overall tactics systems by comparing and analyzing each other's knowledge," Capt. Jeong-geun Lee said.

Along with exchanging ideas, Captain Cross said the exercise would also improve the coalitions' capabilities to wage war.

Captain Cross said the joint training is important to Kunsan AB's three-tiered mission -- defend the base, accept follow-on forces and take the fight north -- because it will enable forces to defend the base. The mission for the flights was to defend the airspace around the base, which encompasses the first two tiers of the mission. Future missions will highlight the take the fight north tier of the mission.

"Today's mission is focused on the first part of our three-tier mission, defend the base," said Colonel CQ Brown, the 8th FW commander. "Eventually these joint missions will focus more on 'taking the fight north,' our third tier, through large force employment missions."

Training and flying with South Korea is imperative to increasing interoperability between the two units and increasing confidence in each other's aircraft capabilities, pilot abilities and tactics, Colonel Brown said.

"We will be better prepared as a total force in the event of hostilities," he said. "The safety of this country and the stability of the region are enhanced by our presence and ability to employ as an integrated force. Training together, we can make each other more combat ready, making all of us here safer."

"This exercise was indeed significant and remarkable, not only because it is the first joint flight since the 38th Fighter Group's transition form the F-5 to the F-16s, but also because this was the first step of further combined operations and partnerships between the ROKAF and the USAF," Captain Lee said.

"They are true professionals and we are proud to serve together with them in maintaining peace and stability in the region," Colonel Brown said.

The next joint training exercise is scheduled later in June.

(Aero-News salutes Staff Sgt. Alice Moore, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

FMI: www.af.mil

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