KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Marine Attack Squadron 311 arrived at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 12, 2017, in support of Exercise MAX THUNDER 17.
Max Thunder is an annual operational readiness exercise built to promote interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces where service members from both nations train for air-to-air and air-to-ground mission.
“(This exercise) increases our abilities to work effectively with our allies and the different services, while demonstrating our combat power as far as what we could accomplish with them.” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt.
Tristan Wickersham, an AV-8B Harrier pilot with VMA-311.
VMA-311 is currently on a six month rotation as part of the Unit Deployment Program with Marine Aircraft Group 12 on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
Their mission is to execute joint operations in order to increase interoperability and assess tactical mission readiness. They will act as subject matter experts for the Harriers used in the exercise, and assist in the planning of how to effectively use the aircraft.
“The goal is to work with the Republic of Korea forces on maintenance, aviation and planning to ultimately end up doing flying missions and sorties with them.” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Paul Gucwa, an AV-8B Harrier pilot with VMA 311.
Personnel from Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) 12 will provide airfield and airbase support capabilities and supply and support equipment capabilities to the squadron during Max Thunder.
U.S. and ROK aircrews will fly combat-like missions against each other in realistic scenarios. They will be able to debrief together afterwards and use the lessons learned for similar missions held during the exercise.
“What I like most about this exercise is working with our allies and seeing how they plan and execute and showing them how we do it,” said Gucwa.
“We learn from each other to make each other better.”