OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Planners of Max Thunder said the recently concluded air war exercise here was a success and should be expanded next year.

The exercise, which ran June 16–20, saw about 90 U.S. and South Korean aircraft taking part in an intense mock air war. It drew warplanes and crews from the continental United States, Guam and Okinawa, as well as South Korea.

During Max Thunder, as many as 50 aircraft were taking off — mostly in groups of four — from various bases "within a 20-minute window" to do battle according to a fictitious war scenario with a broad range of missions, said Air Force Maj. Allen Rhyne, chief of training with U.S. 7th Air Force (Air Forces Korea) at Osan.

The aircraft had to enter "simulated hostile territory to attack targets in the country," he said.

"So they would basically fight their way in and out," he said.

"We met all our objectives for the exercise," Rhyne said. "In addition, we also got some great learning for how we can make it better next year."

Exercise goals included helping South Korean air force F-15K fighter pilots prepare for the U.S. Air Force’s Red Flag air war exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in August. In addition, it gave the U.S. and South Korean air forces a chance to work together in a simulated war situation.

"It was a great success," Rhyne said. "We were able to execute the plans that we came up with successfully with minimal losses to the friendly side and overwhelming destruction on the adversary forces.

"For the ROKAF pilots, it worked out great. They did a great job and they are more than ready to take part in Red Flag."

Though Rhyne said Max Thunder had enough aircraft this year, planners want to have the EA-6 Prowler, which is an electronic jammer, and the F16CJ, used for "Wild Weasel" missions that go after enemy anti-aircraft radar.

And they also want next year’s exercise to bring in antiaircraft radars, "so that we actually have a surface-to-air system that can be detected by airborne aircraft and engaged by airborne aircraft," Rhyne said.

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