Ready to 'RoK' Red Flag
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Pilots and maintainers from both the Republic of Korea air force and the 8th Fighter Wing paired up and trained during exercise Buddy Wing 14-1 the week of Jan. 14-17, 2014.
This Buddy Wing exercise was geared specifically towards training for the upcoming Red Flag exercise in July.
"We are training with our RoKaf partners to learn from each other and ensure we are ready to fight together against any threat," said Lt. Col. Luther Cross, 8th FW chief of safety. "Every squadron going to Red Flag is involved in preparations prior to arrival, regardless of nationality."
Each Red Flag exercise normally involves a variety of interdiction, attack, air superiority, defense suppression, airlift, air refueling and reconnaissance aircraft. Red Flag provides a peacetime "battlefield" in which combat air forces can train. Inside this battlefield, aircrews train to fight together, survive together and win together.
"The main difference between Red Flag and other training scenarios is the large number of aircraft in each fight," said Cross. "Our normal fights here are usually four versus two aircraft, but Red Flag could possibly have more than 50 versus 12 aircraft."
Cross continued to say that having more than 60 aircraft in a fight is a very large challenge, but it gets everyone ready for robust wartime scenarios.
"They [RoKaf] are also getting used to having US controllers and the Red Flag-style briefings and debriefings," continued Cross. "They are very strictly structured to get through the massive amount of information required to pull the biggest lessons out of the flights."
The chief of safety also said that while RoKaf and U.S. Air Force share tactics and fly the same aircraft, there are always small differences in terminology and training.
"We want to train together so we understand these subtle differences and fight alongside each other seamlessly," said Cross. "You train like you fight. So to fight together, we need to train together."
"This has been a very helpful experience," said Capt. Jun-Mong Yang, RoKaf 20th Tactical Fighter Wing pilot and Buddy Wing participant. "I'm very happy to be here."
The RoKaf pilots aren't the only ones excited to be training for Red Flag as a combined team.
"Ever since I came to Korea, I've understood our joint role with them and exercising as a force together was pretty important," said 8th Operations Support Squadron chief of combat training, Capt. Philip Jackson. "I haven't actually been able to fly with them [RoKaf] yet, so I'm really excited about it."
The Buddy Wing exercise concluded Jan. 17 with all participants feeling confident about the training.
"They have been very professional and eager to learn," said Cross. "I know they [RoKaf] will enjoy Red Flag, and they will represent their country well."