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Buddy Wing 16-4 displays interoperability

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dustin King
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 8th Fighter Wing hosted members from the Republic of Korea air force's 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Seosan Air Base, to participate in Exercise Buddy Wing 16-4 here, May 9 to 13.

During the five-day exercise, the 120th TFS fighter pilots, maintenance and support personnel integrated with Wolf Pack Airmen on all aspects of the exercise, including mission planning, briefing, execution and debriefing.

"The importance of Buddy Wing exercises is to give our pilots an opportunity to work directly with our ROKAF counterparts," said Capt. Ryan Neely, 35th Fighter Squadron B-flight commander and Exercise Buddy Wing 16-4 project officer. "This gives us the ability to work through all the fog and uncertainty that we have to plan around but don't really get to see until we are in the same room as each other trying to jump the small hurdles such as language barriers."

According to Neely, Exercise Buddy Wing 16-4 focuses on different aspects of air-to-air and air-to-ground tactical training between the 8th FW and the 120th TFS in order to execute effectively.

"The training allows us to identify obstacles we may have not seen earlier," Neely said. "You can plan on paper and end up realizing there is small problems that weren't thought of at first. Cultural differences effect the way that we brief and fly, these exercises allow us to see that first hand, that way we are not finding out things for the first time when they really matter."

Combining specific objectives prove beneficial for the participating units during Buddy Wing exercises because Airmen not only refine tactical skillsets but also promote safety, cultural awareness and interoperability.

"The Wolf Pack has a long standing mission to aid in the defense of the Republic of Korea. If we are called upon, we will be fighting beside our Korean brothers and sisters to do so," said Maj. Bailyn Beck, 8th Fighter Wing Director of Staff. "Exercises like Buddy Wing allow us an opportunity to train together and build the relationships need to fight at a moment's notice. Each time we come together, both group of pilots walk away with a better understanding of what each brings to the team."

Buddy Wing exercises are conducted at various ROKAF and U.S. Air Force bases multiple times throughout the year on the Korean peninsula. The combined fighter exchange program provides pilots an opportunity to exchange ideas and practice combined tactics in order to fight and fly as one Allied force.