In continuing a tradition that dates back more than 20 years, airmen assigned to the USAF’s 8th Fighter Wing (FW) in South Korea have once again trained alongside their Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) counterparts during a US-ROK buddy squadron event that was held at Cheongju Air Base (AB).
During the week-long exercise – which took place from July 24-28 – airmen and F-16C/D Fighting Falcons from the 8th FW’s 35th Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Pantons’ and 35th Fighter Generation Squadron at Kunsan AB planned, operated, flew and debriefed together with their counterparts from the ROKAF’s 151st FS, which operates the F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter. It marked the first time that a buddy squadron event had been hosted by Cheongju AB, providing an opportunity for pilots from both units to train alongside each other.
Maj Shoi Sun Ltya, a ROKAF F-35A pilot assigned to the 151st FS, said: “This buddy squadron event is the first time we have had the opportunity to train with the 8th FW and being able to practice with our partners, to integrate between fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft. We were able to sync tactics, develop our skills and improve the relationship between our pilots.”
The main objective of this training event was to strengthen the US-ROK alliance by improving the overall interoperability between the ROKAF and USAF forces based in South Korea. Commenting on this, Maj Matthew Bittner – a USAF F-16C/D pilot assigned to the 35th FS – said: “Our US and ROKAF combined force operations are essential to maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula. The training allows us the opportunity to bridge some of the gaps that we have in the way that we do things and helps us build cohesion by operating together toward a common goal.”