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Wolf Pack trains on ground, in the sky with ROKAF fighter squadron

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel Earick
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Continuing a tradition that dates back more than 20 years, U.S. Air Force Airmen trained alongside Republic of Korea Air Force counterparts during a U.S.-ROK Buddy Squadron event, July 24-28.

During the week-long exercise, Airmen from the 35th Fighter Squadron and 35th Fighter Generation Squadron, assigned to Kunsan AB, planned, operated, flew and debriefed together with their 151st FS ROKAF counterparts.

It was the first time Cheongju AB hosted a buddy squadron event and provided the chance for 35th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots to train alongside the 151st FS’s fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

“This Buddy Squadron event is the first time we have had the opportunity to train with the 8th Fighter Wing and being able to practice with our partners, to integrate between fourth and fifth-generation aircraft,” said ROKAF Maj. Shoi Sun Ltya, 151st Fighter Squadron F-35 Lightning II pilot. “We were able to sync tactics, develop our skills and improve the relationship between our pilots.”

The main objective of the training was to strengthen the Alliance by improving the interoperability of U.S and ROK forces.

“Our U.S. and ROKAF combined force operations are essential to maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Bittner, 35th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “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.”

While the pilots worked to complete flying requirements together, the maintenance squadrons worked to make sure the planes were kept in fighting shape.

“Here at Cheongju, ROKAF maintainers also service F-16s, so the equipment used for maintenance that we might not have on hand, they do-- and have been more than willing to provide assistance,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Fisher, 35th Fighter Generation Squadron flightline expediter. “Being able to reach out and work with my ROKAF counterparts has been very beneficial.”

Throughout the week, Airmen from both countries improved their capabilities while strengthening the ironclad U.S.-ROK Alliance through focused training both in the air and on the ground.