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Pantons, ROKAF improve air ops during Buddy Wing 17-4

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies above Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4. The exercise enhances interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces for combined operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies above Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4. The exercise enhances interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces for combined operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

Three F-16 Fighting Falcons taxi down the flightline at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Pilots from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4 at Jungwon Air Base, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

Three F-16 Fighting Falcons taxi down the flightline at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Pilots from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4 at Jungwon Air Base, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis down a runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to take part in Buddy Wing 17-4 from May 15-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis down a runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to take part in Buddy Wing 17-4 from May 15-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot shows his squadron pride while taxiing down a runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan  to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4. Exercises such as this help to increase interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot shows his squadron pride while taxiing down a runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4. Exercises such as this help to increase interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies above Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4. The exercise enhances interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces for combined operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies above Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 15, 2017. Six aircraft from the 35th Fighter Squadron departed Kunsan to participate in Buddy Wing 17-4. The exercise enhances interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces for combined operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Hunsaker/Released)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th Fighter Squadron took off from Kunsan on May 15 to support Buddy Wing 17-4 at Jungwon Air Base, Republic of Korea.

The 5-day exercise, which is conducted several times throughout the year, focuses on enhancing flying operations between the U.S. and ROK Air Force.

“These exercises give us an opportunity to integrate with our ROKAF counterparts,” said Capt. Ryan Clisset, 35th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot. “We share tactics, intelligence and operations, which are the skills we need to use if we ever had to take the fight to an enemy.”

Buddy Wings like this provide valuable flying hours to the pilots, enabling them to become familiar with each other’s pre-, in-air and post-flight processes as well as working out any communication barriers that might arise during operations.

Flying side-by-side involves a certain level of trust, which is built up through exercises such as this.

“This exercise helps us bridge the language and culture gaps that we may have,” said Clisset. “We are able to learn and grow together; eventually, we get to a point where we can speak the same language and know each other’s tactics.”

Each Buddy Wing zeroes in on certain flying objectives with an aim to sharpen responses from U.S. and ROKAF pilots in a contested scenario.

This particular exercise concentrates on air-to-ground targeting in an opposed environment. Surface-to-air and air-to-air threats were simulated to give U.S. and ROKAF pilots a feel for what opposing forces might carry out.

“These Buddy Wings are a relatively new phenomenon,” said Clisset. “I have personally seen an improvement in everyone’s performance and tactical execution. Our ability to mission plan and integrate over the last three years has become a lot more effective.”