South Korea, United States Hold Largest Ever Joint Air Drill

Plus, China’s new Shenyang J-15 jet makes an appearance, and the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 gets ready to retire.

South Korea, United States Hold Largest Ever Joint Air Drill
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A few curated defense and security links for the end of the week (focusing on air power this week):

South Korea and the United States are set to hold their largest ever joint air drill later this month. The biannual Max Thunder exercise will be largest ever, according to AFP, involving 103 aircraft and 1,400 troops. U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16s will operate alongside U.S. Marine FA-18s and EA-18s, and South Korea will include its Air Force’s F-15K jets in the exercise.  “The combined air forces will strengthen their battle readiness under the current situation when tension rises over the Korean peninsula,” said a statement released by the South Korean Air Force. According to South China Morning Post, the exercise is largely geared to “practical scenarios,” including precision attacks on enemy positions, supply-drop missions for troops infiltrating enemy territory, and other endeavors. The exercise comes against the backdrop of the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises. Those exercises drew considerable protest from North Korea, which regards the drills as an aggressive show of force.

When the Pentagon announced that the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II was on the chopping block as the budget grew tighter, people were noticeably upset. The Washington Post‘s Christian Davenport takes a closer look at the backlash against retiring the reliable “Warthog” aircraft. The A-10 is a heavily armed, heavily armored attack aircraft that excels in supporting ground forces. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars note that the A-10 was hugely instrumental in saving lives and helping infantry accomplish important objectives with its support. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, poked fun at the aircraft’s high utility on the battlefield given its relatively uninspired design, noting that “the A-10 is the ugliest, most beautiful aircraft on the planet.”

The Washington Free Beacon‘s Bill Gertz writes on China’s new Shenyang J-15 “Flying Shark” — a jet based on the Russia’s SU-33 and meant for use on aircraft carriers. The J-15 will allow the PLA Navy to stage attacks against naval and land-based targets from a carrier base. The report is largely based off pictures of the J-15 that were posted on the Global Times website shortly before U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited China and toured the Liaoning aircraft carrier. According to Rick Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military, “by giving Secretary of Defense Hagel the honor of the first foreign tour of their first aircraft carrier, China is signaling that in the next decade it will become a global competitor to the United States.”

In case you missed it, Zachary Keck and I spoke with Flashpoints author Robert Farley about his new book, Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force, on The Diplomat‘s podcast this week.