The 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB, South Korea, conducted a no-notice combat readiness exercise to test the base’s ability to defend the peninsula at a moment’s notice last week. “We conduct multiple operational readiness exercises every year to hone that edge of readiness,” 8th FW inspector general Lt. Col. Scott Siegfried said in a release. Beverly Pack 16-2 included a quick-launch F-16 sortie generation exercise with 20 aircraft, and “simulated incoming theater ballistic missile attacks” as well as chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological threats, he added. Though the exercise was pre-planned, North Korea has escalated tensions in the region with a nuclear test last month, followed by a ballistic missile launch earlier this week. “The mentality of being ready around-the-clock is critical … to stand strong regardless of the circumstances and defend the Republic of Korea,” said Siegfried. The readiness exercise ran Feb. 2-6.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.