Kunsan AB Airmen, allies complete Cobra Gold 24

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Karla Parra
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to 80th Fighter and Fighter Generation Squadron and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft concluded participation in Joint Exercise Cobra Gold 2024 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, March 8. The 43rd iteration of the exercise brought together service members from seven nations from Feb. 26 to March 9 to enhance regional peace and stability.

Throughout the two-week multinational exercise, 80th Fighter Squadron pilots flew 96 sorties and more than 160 flying hours over the skies of Thailand, executing 13 large force exercises that combined offensive and defensive counter-air measures as well as six combined joint all-domain operations with aircrew from the Royal Thai Air Force. The squadron, consisting of several young pilots, credits Cobra Gold 24 with equipping fliers from both sides of the Thai-American alliance with valuable experience with interoperability.

“This was a great opportunity to test mission planning procedures at the multinational level,” said Lt. Col. Brandon July, 80th Fighter Squadron commander. “Cobra Gold 24 allowed us to solidify what integration looks like on both sides of the alliance [Thai-American] and became a rather seamless process that proved we can come together to get after common objectives for the region.”

An annual exercise, Cobra Gold is designed to provide the U.S., its allies and mission partners a venue to execute complex and realistic operations. The 80th Fighter Generation Squadron and 8th Maintenance Squadron personnel benefited from the exercise’s realistic scenarios and change in location.

“Our team executed well in a contingency-like environment, with live munitions building and loading, and unconventional aircraft generation… all of which should give us a lot of confidence in our ability to execute the mission from anywhere,” said Capt. Sophie Rizzo, 80th Fighter Generation Squadron director of operations. “Whether it was collaborating with the Royal Thai Air Force maintainers to mitigate constrained resources, working with our 934 Air Wing reserve partners for military airlift, or coordinating with U.S. and Thai Army on munitions employment, the Juvats showcased commitment to partnership.”

Kunsan Air Base has maintained participation in Cobra Gold annually throughout the exercise’s 43-year history and looks forward to the training it provides personnel.

“This is an exercise we always look forward to,” July said. “Taking the team on the road, interacting with our international partners and weaving what we do into the larger picture… the combined force’s plan with the other services, is a highlight in the grand scheme of our tours at Kunsan.”