One of the largest flying exercises on the Korean peninsula opens on 30th November as the U.S. and the Republic of Korea launch Vigilant Ace 17-1 — one of multiple exercises organized each year to enhance the readiness of US and ROK forces through simulated wartime tasking.
More than 16,000 personnel will take part in the annual exercise, which involves more than 200 U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy aircraft from eight US and ROK installations.
About 600 of the US participants will deploy to South Korea for the exercise, which ends on 5th December. The US aircraft involved include the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II, EA-18G Growler, F/A-18D Hornet, C-130 Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker, and E-3B Airborne Warning and Control System.
These aircraft will train alongside ROK Air Force F-15K Slam Eagles, KF-16 Fighting Falcons, FA-50, KA-1s, F-5Es, and F-4Es.
The first edition of Vigilant Ace took place in 2015. The event is intended to fill the gap between strategic-level exercises, such as Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian, and lower-level tactical exercises.
Last year’s exercise included Total Force units from Japan and Guam in addition to more than 20,000 US and ROK participants and over 200 on-peninsula aircraft. The playing field spanned eight bases in Korea and required the movement of some 1,000 personnel.