Korea — Formidable “Elephant March” formidable enough to prevail over enemy

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.”

Weapon tech­ni­cians from the Kore­an Air Force’s 38th Fight­er Group load an MK-82 bomb on the fight­er dur­ing a South Korea-U.S. joint drill held on Mar. 2 in which fight­er air­craft fly sor­ties car­ry­ing as many weapons as pos­si­ble in a real wartime envi­ron­ment. By Park Heung-bae
Source: MND, Repub­lic of Korea

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