Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron, participate in an elephant walk during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise gives aircrews and air support operations personnel from various airframes, military services and our Republic of Korea partners an opportunity to integrate and practice combat operations against realistic air and ground threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron, conduct an elephant walk on a taxiway during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides U.S. and RoK forces training to employ Airpower to deter aggression and preserve the armistice, defend the RoK and defeat any attack against the alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

Maintainers from the 25th Fighter Squadron prepare an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft for live weapons loading during exercise Vigilant Ace 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise gives aircrews and air support operations personnel from various airframes, military services and our Republic of Korea partners an opportunity to integrate and practice combat operations against realistic air and ground threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, flies over Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. The exercise gives aircrews and air support operations personnel from various airframes, military services and our Republic of Korea partners an opportunity to integrate and practice combat operations against realistic air and ground threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class James Egan, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, fuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft during exercise Vigilant Ace 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides realistic air combat training for the United States and Republic of Korea, testing and refining the readiness and interoperability of US-ROK forces to deter aggression and provide a rapid response to attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Hamlin Burch and Jacob Wiemers, 25th Fighter Squadron weapons load crew members, remove a weapon system from an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft during exercise Vigilant Ace 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides realistic air combat training for the United States and Republic of Korea, testing and refining the readiness and interoperability of US-ROK forces to deter aggression and provide a rapid response to attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, taxis down a runway during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise gives aircrews and air support operations personnel from various airframes, military services and our Republic of Korea partners an opportunity to integrate and practice combat operations against realistic air and ground threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Wiemers, 25th Fighter Squadron weapons load crew member, tightens a bolt on an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft during exercise Vigilant Ace 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides realistic air combat training for the United States and Republic of Korea, testing and refining the readiness and interoperability of US-ROK forces to deter aggression and provide a rapid response to attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, assigned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., begins take-off during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise allows U.S. and RoK forces to train together to deter aggression, preserve the armistice, and defeat any attack against the alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off
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U.S. Air Force Airmen confer on the flightline during exercise Vigilant Ace 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides realistic air combat training for the United States and Republic of Korea, testing and refining the readiness and interoperability of US-ROK forces to deter aggression and provide a rapid response to attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off
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U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, taxi across a runway during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides U.S. and RoK forces training to employ Airpower to deter aggression and preserve the armistice, defend the RoK and defeat any attack against the alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off
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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron, taxis down a runway during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides U.S. and RoK forces training to employ Airpower to deter aggression, preserve the armistice, defend the RoK and defeat any attack against the alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Exercise Vigilant Ace 18 kicks off
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U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron, participate in an elephant walk during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The exercise provides U.S. and RoK forces training to employ Airpower to deter aggression, preserve the armistice, defend the RoK and defeat any attack against the alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

Osan is one of eight military stations across the Korean Peninsula launching exercise Vigilant Ace 18, an annual exercise geared toward enhancing interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces and ensuring local peace and security, Dec. 4-8.

During the week-long exercise, the U.S. and ROK are combining their forces with a total of 230 aircraft, training on mutual support procedures and further improving understanding and trust between the two nations.

"In the event we need to help defend our 51 million Korean allies, I need to be sure the 51st Fighter Wing is synchronized with the Combined-Joint force,” said Col. William D. Betts, 51st FW commander. “Vigilant Ace is an opportunity for us to do just that; focus on getting smarter, faster and more capable than we were yesterday while we generate combat airpower and strengthen the alliance."

U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy and ROK Air Force personnel at Kunsan, Osan, Jungwon, Gwangju, Wonju, Daegu, Seosan and Cheongju are testing their warfighter procedures, focusing on full-spectrum operations to deter, and if necessary defeat, a rapidly evolving threat.

As they would during a real world event, several units from across U.S. Pacific Command are bedding down at the participating bases to augment their current forces, ensuring training scenarios during VA18 are as true to life as possible.

"The threat here on the peninsula is very real, and countering that threat needs to be in the forefront of our minds,” said Betts. “My biggest expectation for the Wing is to remove any 'exercise' mindset from the equation and maximize the realism of every response. We will ensure we have no regrets if we find ourselves executing contingency operations."

In the air, U.S. F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightning IIs, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles, F-18 Hornets and EA-18G Growlers are flying alongside ROK F-15K Slam Eagles and F-4 Phantom IIs, providing realistic air combat training and enhancing operational and tactical-level coordination through combined and joint combat training.

Though the name has changed, U.S. and ROK forces have been working together in this annual exercise for the last nine years, now as Vigilant Ace and before as Beverly Bulldog. It serves as one way the U.S. can reaffirm its commitment to stability in the Northeast Asia region and highlight its longstanding military partnership and enduring friendship with the ROK.