USAF, ROKAF put Max Thunder into full swing

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea (AFNS) -- U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force personnel began the second 7th Air Force-designed Max Thunder bilateral air training exercise here May 7.

The training opportunity aims to test aircrews' warfighting skills in realistic combat situations that combine both ROKAF and USAF flying and maintenance personnel.

"The experience gained from the second annual large-force employment training exercise will not only minimize potential combat losses, but will also demonstrate interoperability between the U.S. military and ROK military forces on the peninsula," said Capt. Ben Vickers, 8th Fighter Wing Max Thunder project officer.

The exercise currently involves more than ten flying units and nearly 70 U.S and ROKAF aircraft. U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-15 Eagles are teaming with ROKAF KF-16s, F-15Ks, F-4Es, RF-4Cs and F-5s to enhance overall interoperability.

Max Thunder 09-01 seeks to replicate the scenarios and planning cycles of Red Flag, an exercise held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and, according to the captain, increase U.S. Air Force and ROKAF commitments to deter conflict in the region.

"Exercises like Max Thunder and Red Flag are important to the readiness of the USAF and our allies to ensure we are battle-ready and trained for combined air operations," said Captain Vickers.

Last year's exercise served the same purpose, while preparing ROKAF F-15Ks for their first participation in Red Flag.

Participating U.S. Air Force units include the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; 36th Fighter Squadron, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea; 44th Fighter Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan; and the 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.

"The hope is to normalize and improve the operations and procedures used by our two nations' air forces in a combined arena," said the captain.

The exercise will continue through May. 15.