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Airmen, Sailors complete interservice air combat training

by Master Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/21/2007 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFPN) -- Forty Kunsan Air Base Airmen returned here Dec. 20 after completing an 11-day training exercise for air combat training with Sailors at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan. 

During the training exercise, pilots received training on different basic fighter maneuvers as F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-18 Hornets went head to head within each training scenario.

Airmen from the 8th Operations Group, 8th Maintenance Group and 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron along with five F-16s deployed to the naval installation Dec. 9 to 20. Training was stepped up during differential air combat tactics when four F-16 pilots flew against up to six F-18 pilots. A scenario was also played out where a combined flight of two Navy and two Air Force jets flew against another combined flight of two Navy and two Air Force jets.

"Air combat training between the services exposes both Navy and Air Force pilots to different air-to-air tactics and aircraft capabilities," said Maj. Michael Boger, an 8th Operations Support Squadron director of operations and training exercise commander. "This type of training is critically important to maintain not only (Kunsan AB) pilots and maintainers, but Navy fighter pilots' combat skills by engaging in realistic air-to-air combat training against different types of high-performance fighter aircraft." 

These scenarios along with flying from Japan helped trained Kunsan AB aviators to varied aerial situations allowing them to learn adaptation and flexibility, Major Boger said. Many of the maneuvers used during training at Kunsan AB against F-16s were validated against the F-18s with slightly different cues for accomplishing certain maneuvers.

Pilots flying the missions were not the only Airmen who received valuable training during the training exercise. 

Maintenance has been great with all Airmen fully engaged during launch, recovery and any maintenance issues that have arose during the training exercise, said Capt. Katie Jett, the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. Deploying to a Navy base compared to an Air Force base means there is different equipment to service and troubleshoot the aircraft along with parts. However, those differences didn't affect maintenance, but will be beneficial for future training exercises. 

"Since we've experienced what a Naval base has to offer, we'll be able to better coordinate prior to arrival what we can count on the Navy to provide and also what exactly to bring for future training exercises to Japan," she said.  

The other beneficiary of the training was the Carrier Air Wing FIVE based at Atsugi. The unit with its six squadrons and five different airframes was easily able to integrate and train with the 35th Fighter Squadron pilots through the joint air-to-air training. 

"Joint air-to-air combat training is extremely important in today's military as joint operations become more and more essential," said Navy Lt. Cdr. Jason Lane, the assistant operations officer for CVW-5. "In a dynamic air-to-air training environment, face-to-face planning, briefing and debriefing are crucial to the training."

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