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US, South Korea strengthen bonds at exercise Buddy Wing

Maj. Dean Laansma gives the 80th Fighter Squadron "Crush 'em" gesture to an F-15K Slam Eagle as it taxis during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 5, 2015, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. The 8th Fighter Wing deployed four F-16 Fighting Falcons to fly alongside the South Korean air force’s 11th FW's F-15Ks during the four-day exercise. Laansma is the 80th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations and exercise Buddy Wing detachment commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

Maj. Dean Laansma gives the 80th Fighter Squadron "Crush 'em" gesture to an F-15K Slam Eagle as it taxis during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 5, 2015, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. The 8th Fighter Wing deployed four F-16 Fighting Falcons to fly alongside the South Korean air force’s 11th FW's F-15Ks during the four-day exercise. Laansma is the 80th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations and exercise Buddy Wing detachment commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

An F-15K Slam Eagle from the South Korean air force’s 11th Fighter Wing prepares to taxi on the runway during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 5, 2015, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. During the four-day exercise, pilots from the 8th FW exchanged tactics and procedures with their South Korean counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

An F-15K Slam Eagle from the South Korean air force’s 11th Fighter Wing prepares to taxi on the runway during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 5, 2015, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. During the four-day exercise, pilots from the 8th FW exchanged tactics and procedures with their South Korean counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 8th Fighter Wing takes off during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 5, 2015, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. Buddy Wing exercises are held multiple times a year to enhance interoperability between  the U.S. and South Korean air forces, promote cultural awareness; and integrate mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 8th Fighter Wing takes off during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 5, 2015, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. Buddy Wing exercises are held multiple times a year to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and South Korean air forces, promote cultural awareness; and integrate mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

DAEGU AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing sharpened combat skills and gained insight from their South Korean air force counterparts during exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 Feb. 3-6, at Daegu Air Base, South Korea.

During this iteration of Buddy Wing, 8th FW Airmen deployed to Daegu to train alongside Airmen of the 11th FW, learning how to operate as one force with dissimilar fighter aircraft as they integrated mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing together.

"This has been a really great experience for me. This exercise is not like Max Thunder or Red Flag -- it's much smaller so we've been able to have much more face-to-face interactions; which has allowed us to focus more on the relationships between USAF and ROKAF (Republic of Korea air force)," said Capt. Won Ho Lim, a 102nd Fighter Squadron F-15K Slam Eagle pilot with the South Korean air force.

Throughout the four-day exercise, pilots exchanged tactics and procedures with their South Korean counterparts.

"This exercise was unique because we came to a ROKAF base and operated at their facilities," said Maj. Dean Laansma, the 80th FS assistant director of operations and Buddy Wing detachment commander. "It was advantageous to see how they ran their operations as we assimilated ourselves to them and increased our ability to understand and work with each other."

Buddy Wing exercises ensure that U.S. and South Korean airmen continuously enhance combat capabilities, so if the need arises, they are ready to fight as a combined force.

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