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Wolf Pack completes Pen-wide VIGILANT ACE 18

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing, prepares to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017.  The regularly scheduled flying exercise features more than 230 aircraft with U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force personnel working alongside each other, comparable to participation from previous years’ iterations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing, prepares to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. The regularly scheduled flying exercise features more than 230 aircraft with U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force personnel working alongside each other, comparable to participation from previous years’ iterations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron travel down a taxiway during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. The regularly scheduled flying exercise featured more than 230 aircraft from the U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Forces with personnel working alongside each other, to test their ability to conduct combat sorties in support of Joint Combined Air Component Commander’s requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron travel down a taxiway during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. The regularly scheduled flying exercise featured more than 230 aircraft from the U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Forces with personnel working alongside each other, to test their ability to conduct combat sorties in support of Joint Combined Air Component Commander’s requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 8th Security Forces Squadron defend the base during a simulated attack while participating in exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The week-long exercise tested the squadron’s ability to defend the base in a wartime scenario with various simulated attacks and intrusions on the installation to further enable the Wolf Pack’s ability to generate aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 8th Security Forces Squadron defend the base during a simulated attack while participating in exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The week-long exercise tested the squadron’s ability to defend the base in a wartime scenario with various simulated attacks and intrusions on the installation to further enable the Wolf Pack’s ability to generate aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 8th Security Forces Squadron acts as a member of an opposing force to simulate a base attack during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The week-long exercise tested the squadron’s ability to defend the base in a wartime scenario. Various simulated attacks on the installation enhanced the skills and training of Wolf Pack Airmen and their ability to respond to threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 8th Security Forces Squadron acts as a member of an opposing force to simulate a base attack during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The week-long exercise tested the squadron’s ability to defend the base in a wartime scenario. Various simulated attacks on the installation enhanced the skills and training of Wolf Pack Airmen and their ability to respond to threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force 8th Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron Defenders and Republic of Korea Special Operations Forces 35th Battalion, 7th Brigade, coordinate base security efforts from a command post at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The U.S. and ROK service members orchestrate mobile foot patrols, defensive fighting positions and integrated defense tactics with combined forces defending critical assets and personnel on Kunsan. The combination of both forces provides not only internal but external base defense for Kunsan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin)

U.S. Air Force 8th Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron Defenders and Republic of Korea Special Operations Forces 35th Battalion, 7th Brigade, coordinate base security efforts from a command post at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The U.S. and ROK service members orchestrate mobile foot patrols, defensive fighting positions and integrated defense tactics with combined forces defending critical assets and personnel on Kunsan. The combination of both forces provides not only internal but external base defense for Kunsan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander and Joint Forces Air Component Commander, lands at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 7, 2017. As the JFACC, Bergeson conducted a battlefield circulation during the exercise to discuss progress with Airmen and highlight key performers at Kunsan. The Wolf Pack supported the regularly scheduled week-long exercise, which featured over 230 U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force aircraft flying and training alongside each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander and Joint Forces Air Component Commander, lands at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 7, 2017. As the JFACC, Bergeson conducted a battlefield circulation during the exercise to discuss progress with Airmen and highlight key performers at Kunsan. The Wolf Pack supported the regularly scheduled week-long exercise, which featured over 230 U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force aircraft flying and training alongside each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Merrick, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels technician, prepares to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. The regularly scheduled flying exercise, was held on the Korean Peninsula Dec. 4-8 with U.S. units from Japan, Guam, and Alaska participating in the realistic air combat exercise with Republic of Korea Air Force units at eight U.S. and Korean military installations across the southern portion of the peninsula ultimately enhancing the combat effectiveness of all involved in the air battle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Merrick, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels technician, prepares to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. The regularly scheduled flying exercise, was held on the Korean Peninsula Dec. 4-8 with U.S. units from Japan, Guam, and Alaska participating in the realistic air combat exercise with Republic of Korea Air Force units at eight U.S. and Korean military installations across the southern portion of the peninsula ultimately enhancing the combat effectiveness of all involved in the air battle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing taxi in front of an F-35A Lightning II assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017. The 8th Fighter Wing hosted the fifth-generation strike fighters to train side-by-side during the week-long, bi-annual exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Frank W. Miller III)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing taxi in front of an F-35A Lightning II assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017. The 8th Fighter Wing hosted the fifth-generation strike fighters to train side-by-side during the week-long, bi-annual exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Frank W. Miller III)

Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. The annual exercise featured 12,000 U.S. personnel working alongside members of the Republic of Korea Air Force at eight U.S. and ROK military installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)

Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. The annual exercise featured 12,000 U.S. personnel working alongside members of the Republic of Korea Air Force at eight U.S. and ROK military installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and four F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi toward the end of the runway during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 3, 2017, at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The Airmen from the 34th EFS deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan in October, and sent Airmen and aircraft to participate in the week-long, annual VIGILANT ACE exercise in support of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Colby Hardin)
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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and four F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi toward the end of the runway during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 3, 2017, at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The Airmen from the 34th EFS deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan in October, and sent Airmen and aircraft to participate in the week-long, annual VIGILANT ACE exercise in support of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Colby Hardin)

An F-35A Lightning ll streaks across the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, as it lands during the annual exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 4, 2017. The F-35A, assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, was located at Kunsan as part of the regularly scheduled exercise, marking the first time fifth-generation aircraft participated in an operational readiness exercise on the Korean Peninsula. In October 12 F-35As forward deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of a Theater Security Package in support of U.S. Pacific Command priorities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)
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An F-35A Lightning ll streaks across the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, as it lands during the annual exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 4, 2017. The F-35A, assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, was located at Kunsan as part of the regularly scheduled exercise, marking the first time fifth-generation aircraft participated in an operational readiness exercise on the Korean Peninsula. In October 12 F-35As forward deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of a Theater Security Package in support of U.S. Pacific Command priorities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

F-35A Lightning II aircraft from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, fly in formation with F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing in the skies over South Korea.
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U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II aircraft participate in a training mission near Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 1, 2017, in preparation for VIGILANT ACE 18. F-16 pilots assigned to the Wolf Pack at Kunsan conducted training missions with F-35 pilots from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to test the capabilities of the fifth-generation aircraft during integrated flight operations over the Korean Peninsula. The participation of the F-35 in VIGILANT ACE 18 marked the aircraft’s first operational readiness exercise in the Pacific (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Josh Rosales)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, completed its participation in the regularly-scheduled, joint-force training exercise, VIGILANT ACE 18, on Dec. 8, 2017, with members from Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

VIGILANT ACE was a week-long training exercise featuring U.S. personnel working alongside members of the ROK Air Force at eight U.S. and ROK military installations.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander and Joint Forces Air Component Commander, lands at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 7, 2017. As the JFACC, Bergeson conducted a battlefield circulation during the exercise to discuss progress with Airmen and highlight key performers at Kunsan. The Wolf Pack supported the regularly scheduled week-long exercise, which featured over 230 U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force aircraft flying and training alongside each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor) VIGILANT ACE 18 finishes at Kunsan
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander and Joint Forces Air Component Commander, lands at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18, Dec. 7, 2017. As the JFACC, Bergeson conducted a battlefield circulation during the exercise to discuss progress with Airmen and highlight key performers at Kunsan. The Wolf Pack supported the regularly scheduled week-long exercise, which featured over 230 U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force aircraft flying and training alongside each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

This year, the Wolf Pack, with its contingent of F-16C Fighting Falcons, worked alongside six F-35A Lightning IIs from the 34th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which is currently forward deployed to Kadena AB, Japan from Hill AFB, along with other U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine aircraft.

This marked the first time fifth-generation fighter aircraft participated in the training exercise on the Korean Peninsula.

“Like all of our readiness exercises, we really honed our ability to develop comprehensive, cross-functional, wing-wide solutions to difficult scenarios, as a wing,” said Col. David Shoemaker, 8th FW commander. “What’s unique about VIGILANT ACE, is that we are not only looking at how we do this a Kunsan, but also with our Korean partners and other U.S. units in the region. It’s through this train how you fight mentality that we test our readiness, identify strengths and weakness, and continually evolve our combat forces.”

As with previous years, VIGILANT ACE 18 emphasized the need for integrated combat training with ROKAF and U.S. Air Force Airmen. Additionally, like each readiness exercise, the scenarios evolved to incorporate the latest tactics, techniques, procedures and the latest technology; thus this year’s involvement of the twin-tailed Lightning IIs.
“This is a great opportunity for some of our younger pilots to fly with our more experienced guys, as well as join in with the Wolf Pack and the rest of the air assets out here participating in VIGILANT ACE,” said Lt Col Dave DeAngelis, 466th FS commander. “Having the F-35 here on peninsula during this exercise, which is intended to test the combined air picture, validates our ability to jump into the fight at a moment’s notice and support forces in the region.”
A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 8th Security Forces Squadron acts as a member of an opposing force to simulate a base attack during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The week-long exercise tested the squadron’s ability to defend the base in a wartime scenario. Various simulated attacks on the installation enhanced the skills and training of Wolf Pack Airmen and their ability to respond to threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor) VIGILANT ACE 18 finishes at Kunsan
A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 8th Security Forces Squadron acts as a member of an opposing force to simulate a base attack during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 6, 2017. The week-long exercise tested the squadron’s ability to defend the base in a wartime scenario. Various simulated attacks on the installation enhanced the skills and training of Wolf Pack Airmen and their ability to respond to threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Although the U.S. and ROK Air Forces come together for training multiple times a year, this exercise brought a different type of atmosphere.

“This was my third exercise as the Emergency Operations Center Manager,” said Capt. Alexander Graboski, 8th Readiness and Emergency Management Flight commander. “Compared to previous exercises, this one was very unique since we got to see all the flying operations from across the Peninsula come together and work towards a common goal of defending the peninsula.”

Launching and ensuring the ability to launch aircraft wasn’t the only training accomplished this past week. As exercise and ready challenges presented themselves during VIGLANT ACE, the base leadership worked through various scenarios to ensure relevant and safe training.

“It’s important we train in these types of settings, because it gives us a chance to step back and approach a potential wartime scenario in a controlled environment,” said Shoemaker. “The mental rehearsal of options is just as important, if not more so, than how we actually end up responding in these exercises.”

VIGLANT ACE is one of many regularly planned exercises units on the Korean Peninsula conduct to maintain commitments between the U.S. and ROK, and more importantly, to provide a credible fighting force if ever called upon.