By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik
8th Fighter Wing

KUNSAN AIR BASE — Six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th Fighter Squadron here took off May 15 to support Buddy Wing 17-4 at Jungwon Air Base, South Korea.

Three F-16 Fighting Falcons taxi at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, May 15, 2017. Pilots from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4 at Jungwon Air Base, South Korea. ir Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker

The five-day exercise, conducted several times throughout the year, focuses on enhancing flying operations between the U.S. and South Korean air forces.

“These exercises give us an opportunity to integrate with our [South Korean] counterparts,” said Air Force Capt. Ryan Clisset, 35th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot. “We share tactics, intelligence and operations, which are the skills we need to use if we ever had to take the fight to an enemy.” Buddy Wings provide valuable flying hours to the pilots, enabling them to become familiar with each other’s pre-, in-air and post-flight processes as well as working out any communication barriers that might arise during operations, he explained.

Bridging Gaps

Flying side by side involves a certain level of trust, he noted, which is built up through exercises such as this. “This exercise helps us bridge the language and culture gaps that we may have,” Clisset said. “We are able to learn and grow together. Eventually, we get to a point where we can speak the same language and know each other’s tactics.”

Each Buddy Wing zeroes in on certain flying objectives, with an aim to sharpen responses from U.S. and South Korean pilots in a contested scenario.

This particular exercise concentrates on air-to-ground targeting in an opposed environment. Surface-to-air and air-to-air threats were simulated to give U.S. and South Korean pilots a feel for what opposing forces might carry out.

“These Buddy Wings are a relatively new phenomenon,” Clisset said. “I have personally seen an improvement in everyone’s performance and tactical execution. Our ability to mission plan and integrate over the last three years has become a lot more effective.”   back...
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