Members of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB, South Korea, joined their USAF colleagues along with Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Air Force units at Gwangju AB, South Korea, this month for Exercise Max Thunder 15-01, which wrapped up on April 24. Max Thunder, now in its seventh year, is held twice a year and is the largest flying exercise held on the Korean peninsula, with the most recent iteration including more than 750 US personnel training in various combined and joint air power scenarios. A major objective of the large-scale employment exercise is focused on improving US and ROKAF interoperability with dissimilar aircraft types, as well as increase combined command and control practices and intelligence sharing coordination. Max Thunder 15-01 marked the first time the US and ROKAF co-located their exercise intelligence representatives, which had a positive impact on the drills’ scenarios, said Maj. Erik Axt, the 7th Air Force chief of training and the exercise director. “We were able to plan and execute more sorties than at any previous Max Thunder,” he said, providing many opportunities for US and ROK pilots to practice combined air operations. The US and South Korea have agreed to expand intelligence sharing, as the US ally moves to improve its air and missile defense capacity in the next decade.
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.