Kunsan AB hosts Exercise Max Thunder 14-2
By 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, Senior Airman Divine Cox
/ Published November 20, 2014
KUNSAN AIR FORCE BASE, South Korea (AFNS) -- U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel and aircraft are training with the Republic of Korea Air Force units Nov. 14 - 22, in the semi-annual, bilateral training exercise Max Thunder 14-2, here.
The exercise consists of more than 1,300 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines working alongside elements of the South Korean air force to conduct exercise scenarios simulating combined flying operations against hostile forces.
U.S. forces are jointly coordinating with Korean 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 exercises give us the opportunity to sharpen our joint and combined capabilities with our (South Korean) allies," said Col. Ken Ekman, the commander of the 8th Fighter Wing and the Max Thunder 14-2 Expeditionary Force. "By improving our interoperability in these challenging scenarios, the (South Korean) and U.S. pilots will be ready to fight as an effective team in any contingency."
Aircraft, equipment and personnel deployed to Kunsan AB in support of Max Thunder 14-2 are joining Kunsan Airmen and the South Korean 38th Fighter Group from units both on and off the peninsula, including 12th Marine Aircraft Group F/A-18 Hornets; U.S. 7th Fleet EA-18G Growlers; 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Patriots; and South Korean F-15Ks, KF-16s, F-5s and F-4's.
"Accepting follow-on forces represents a vital mission element for Kunsan AB," Ekman said. "Hosting Max Thunder allows us to practice these skills as we bed down large numbers of aircraft and people, then generate a high volume of sorties shortly after their arrival."
Similar in size to the U.S.-hosted Red Flag exercises, Max Thunder supports mission commander training and exposes younger pilots to large-scale, high-threat flying in a peacetime environment. This exposure helps younger pilots become more successful and able to survive in their first actual combat missions, Ekman said.
"The ROK and U.S. alliance is one of the longest standing alliances in modern history," he continued. "Max Thunder exercises serve to strengthen our combined readiness and strengthen the close relationships between the military forces of our two nations."