GWANGJU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea –
Wolf Pack Airmen joined other members of U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and
Republic of Korea Air Force units at Gwangju Air Base, ROK, for Exercise Max
Thunder 15-1, April 10-24.
"This is the seventh year of Max Thunder, and
its core principles remain much the same today as when it began," said Col.
Brian Carr, 51st Fighter Wing vice commander and Max Thunder 15-1 deployed
forces commander. "These intricate scenarios continue to focus on the combined
and joint integration of air power across many disciplines while enhancing the
capability of ROKAF and U.S. flying units to conduct combat air operations
Max Thunder is a regularly scheduled flying exercise held
twice per year and is the largest flying exercise held on the Korean Peninsula.
This latest exercise included more than 750 U.S. personnel, approximately 170 of
those hailing from Kunsan Air Base.
"This iteration of Max Thunder was a
great opportunity for Wolf Pack Airmen to work alongside our fellow Air Force,
Marine and ROKAF counterparts at an unfamiliar base," said Col. Ken "Wolf"
Ekman, 8th Fighter Wing commander. "Practicing realistic combat scenarios in a
different environment not only sharpens our own capabilities, but makes us
stronger as a combined force. This ultimately enhances the Alliance's ability to
A major objective of this large-scale employment exercise
involved increasing U.S. and ROK interoperability with dissimilar aircraft,
enabling aircrew members to be battle-ready for any potential
"This was a golden opportunity to mission plan together and to
better understand each other's capabilities," said Lt. Col. Elika Bowmer, Marine
All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 commanding officer. "Putting all these
units in one place and having face-to-face conversations forces us to break down
communication barriers and exchange ideas, making us more tactically fit to
counter any threats."
While Max Thunder exercises generally aim to
strengthen interoperability between U.S. and ROK airpower assets, a particular
goal for this exercise was to increase combined command and control and
"This was the first time we co-located our
U.S. and ROKAF exercise staff intel representatives, and this integration had an
extremely positive impact on our exercise scenarios," said Maj. Erik Axt, 7th
Air Force chief of training and Max Thunder 15-1 exercise director. "We were
able to plan and execute more sorties than at any previous Max Thunder, which
provided ample training opportunities for our pilots to practice combined
While Wolf Pack pilots flew multiple sorties throughout the
two-week period, maintainers focused on getting the jets in the air.
mission is to make sure these jets fly," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Conley, 8th
Aircraft Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic. "It's an amazing feeling
being able to operate here at Gwangju with our ROKAF brothers and sisters. I
really appreciate the opportunity to learn from them and see the differences
between our operations. I look forward to participating in future exercises with