Between 4 and 10 November 2016, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force host "Invincible Shield," the first ever combined air exercise with the US and the UK.
Four Eurofighter Typhoons from Royal Air Force (RAF) No. 2 Squadron deployed to Osan Air Base in Korea after conducting exercises in Malaysia and Japan. C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, Voyager tanker aircraft, and around 200 RAF personnel will also participate.
This exercise marks the ROK’s first domestic air combat maneuvering exercise with a foreign nation other than the United States. The plan for the exercise was first initiated with the purpose of enhancing the interoperability among the Air Forces from ROK, US, and UK and increase the ROK-UK defense and security cooperation.
In particular, the UK emphasized that their participation demonstrates their continued commitment to the maintenance of the international rules-based system as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (of which the UK has been a member since its inception) and has no relation to the current security environment in the region.
ROKAF F-15K and KF-16 fighters, and USAF F-16 fighters have joined the RAF Typhoons in the exercise. Beginning with the familiarization flight in the mission airspace on Monday, November 7th, each component of the exercise is being conducted over a three-day period from Tuesday, November 8th, until Thursday, November 10th.
The RAF Typhoons' principal role will be Defensive Counter-Air, which involves the targeting of hostile aircraft in the air, whilst ROK and US aircraft will be involved in a range of missions, including Air Interdiction, which is directed at hostile ground targets. This large exercise provides the opportunity to develop interoperability between different types of aircraft and weapon systems, and try out various tactics and techniques, thereby greatly contributing to improving the operational capabilities of each air force.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff and professional head of the RAF, said, "This exercise is helping to deepen further the relationship between the Republic of Korea Air Force and the RAF, and I have taken enormous pride from witnessing our Air Forces join together to enhance even further the spirit of friendship and cooperation between our countries."
Lieutenant General Won, In-Choul, Commander, ROK Air Force Operations Command, who hosted the exercise, said, "I expect Invincible Shield, our first ROK-US-UK combined air exercise, to not only enhance the air operations capability to protect peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, but also great contribute to the improvement of military cooperation with the Royal Air Force,” said Won. “ROKAF will continue to put utmost effort in maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and stability of the region with ROK-US alliance and coordination from friendly nations.”
Lieutenant General Thomas Bergeson, US 7th Air Force Commander who participated in the exercise, remarked, "It is a great honor to be able to work so closely with the proud and capable ROK and UK militaries in the defense of the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “The RAF has a proud history of excellence and the lessons learned in working with them will be invaluable for everybody involved.”
The United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea, both of which are democratic, constitutional states, continue to develop opportunities for cultural and economic exchanges. The UK’s participation in "Invincible Shield" not only demonstrates the UK’s ability to project air power to East Asia, but also marks a milestone in the ROK’s and UK’s journey towards greater defense cooperation and a stronger partnership between the two countries in the future.