June, 21

8th FW, allies participate in maritime strike exercise

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U.S. Air Force 8th Fighter Wing aircraft and personnel participated in a maritime strike exercise scenario as a part of Joint Exercise Cobra Gold 24 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 29. 

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron integrated with U.S. Army AH-64 Apaches, a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, Royal Thai Air Force JAS-39s and Royal Thai Navy vessels to find, target and destroy simulated maritime targets in the Gulf of Thailand. Designed to test the interoperability of joint and multinational assets, the exercise scenario demonstrated the combined force’s readiness to operate throughout the region. 

“We integrated and put together all the different components from the other services and countries,” said Capt. Kevin Saval, 80th Fighter Squadron pilot and mission commander. “I think the biggest learning point in the scenario for all was fine-tuning the communication flow… pushing information from the ground assets, from the naval assets to us in the air and back was great training.” 

The 8th Fighter Wing, also known as the Wolf Pack after the success of Operation Bolo launched from Ubon Air Base, Kingdom of Thailand, in 1967, has maintained participation throughout Joint Exercise Cobra Gold’s 40-year history. Each year, aircraft and support personnel forward deploy for the opportunity to demonstrate U.S. Air Force capabilities, work with Royal Thai Air Force counterparts and develop a strong combined force. 

“Cobra Gold is an invaluable opportunity for personnel from all participating nations to engage and improve the combined force,” said Col. Matthew C. Gaetke, 8th Fighter Wing commander and Cobra Gold 24 U.S. Air Forces commander. “Bringing the Juvats [80th Fighter and Fighter Generation Squadron] out to this iteration of the exercise and seeing our young airmen test their abilities to operate alongside our allies and mission partners proves how strong we can be together as one force toward a common goal.” 

Cobra Gold is the largest joint exercise in mainland Asia, exemplifies the U.S.’ long-standing alliance with the Kingdom of Thailand, and reflects a shared commitment to preserving a peaceful, prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region. 

“The Kingdom of Thailand is one of our [the U.S.’s] oldest treaty allies,” said Gaetke. “And Cobra Gold is just one way we work together, help each other get better and practice tackling the kinds of tough problems no single country can solve alone.” 


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