OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- The 35th Fighter Wing relocated 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons and more than 280 personnel to participate in VIGILANT ACE 18, an annual flying exercise at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, occurring Dec. 4 through 8.
The exercise tests the readiness of 35th FW Airmen to rapidly respond within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and enhance interoperability with allies and sister services across the Korean Peninsula, while sustaining operations away from home station.
“Overall, this exercise will help identify shortfalls our fighter squadron would endure if we had to relocate to the ROK during a real-world scenario,” said 1st Lt. Michael Mayclin, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot. “We want to safely execute our ‘Wild Weasel’ mission set during our time here, while further learning about our role within the Pacific.”
During the relocation, both pilots and maintainers focused on a seamless operational transition from Misawa AB to Osan AB.
“Our number one priority ensures bed-down procedures, or getting equipment and personnel in the right location, are completed and will sufficiently support the mission for immediate operational use,” said Capt. Gabriel Byrd, the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “It is important to find and correct errors during a simulated exercise versus a real-world wartime contingency.”
Alongside the 35th FW, Airmen with the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan AB received realistic training in-processing Airmen from another unit.
“There are very few differences between receiving forces and cargo during VIGILANT ACE 18 and during a wartime environment,” said Staff Sgt. David Mayo, a 51st Maintenance Group unit reception monitor. “If we are flying by the seat of our pants when a real-world scenario occurs, a lot of time and effort will be wasted, potentially costing lives. This exercise forces us to be flexible and accommodate the needs of incoming units.”
VIGILANT ACE 18 encompasses more than 12,000 U.S. personnel at eight ROK and U.S. military installations across the Korean Peninsula.