The heat gushed out of the Korea and U.S. Air Forces‘ KF-16 and F-16 fighters moving in formation in a seemingly endless line at Gunsan Air Base mirrored plainly how strong the ties between the two militaries was. The 38th Fighter Group of the Korean Air Force and U.S. 8th Fighter Wing carried out on March 2 a „Korea-U.S. Combined Real Warfighting Drill“ in which fully armed fighter aircraft fly sorties. The exercise involved about 400 personnel including combat pilots, weapon technicians, and aircraft maintenance crew, and more than 60 fighters. This was the first combined exercise since last year when the U.S. 8th Fighter Wing conducted alone this exercise named „Elephant Walk.“
Designed for the two countries‘ air forces to judge their capability to suppress the enemy’s air power in emergency conditions and to strike major enemy ground targets, the exercise was carried out in the way in which each fighter was fully armed based on its mission as quickly as possible and then, in the shortest time, it moved on a large scale to an airstrip to make sorties. It took the weapon technicians one or two hours to finish arming the aircraft with various weapons such as air-to-air missiles and precise guided weapons.
Soon after the weapon technicians finished loading the weapons, the fighters moved along the taxiway out toward the runway and then there they lined up to get ready to take off one after another. When the pilots sent off their squadron sign shaped like tiger’s claw, the drill-related personnel of the two air forces, who had already stood lining up along the runway, responded to them hailing with acclamations waving their hands to wish them good luck for the successful mission performance.
Maj. Oh Chung-won, chief of the operations department in charge of the exercise, said, “The drill was very helpful in strengthening speedy and powerful Korea-U.S. air power in times of war or local provocations.“ Col. Craig Leavitt, Commander of the Operations Department in charge of the whole exercise of the U.S. force, said, „The primary aim of this drill was at strengthening further the teamwork of the two air forces in an orderly manner.“
Ministry of National Defense[MND], Republic of Korea