Soaring over South Korea

The South Korean airbase of Cheongju for the next two weeks is the stage of a large Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) biannual exercise called Soaring Eagle. Taking part is the old and the ROKAF stuff, from nearly obsolete F-4E Phantoms to new indigenous Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 Golden Hawks.

In the ROKAF’s words, the aim of the large-scale aerial exercise aims is to boost capabilities of blocking enemies’ surprise infiltration and destroying key military assets – in other words, to block any effort of South Korea’s northern neighbour. The air force also wants to evaluate and improve the strategic and light attack combat capabilities of the FA-50. Two Golden Hawks take part in the exercise.

The participants of Soaring Eagle. (Image © ROKAF)
The participants of Soaring Eagle, with two FA-50s in the front. (Image © ROKAF)

Cheongju
Cheongju, visited by Airheadsfly.com editors in 2004, is located about 140 kilometers south of Seoul. The airbase is home to South Korea’s remaining F-4E Phantoms, and also provides ’Top Gun’ training for fighter pilots.

Next to FA-50s and F-4Es, also taking part in Soaring Eagle are F-5E, F-15K and KF-16 fighters. In total, forty aircraft are involved, as well as 320 personnel.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

At first sight this could be Switzerland , but those are South Korean rocks. and that's a South Korean Air Force F-5E Tiger in front of those rocks. Place to be: Wonju airbase, central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
At first sight this could be Switzerland , but those are South Korean rocks and that’s a South Korean Air Force F-5E Tiger in front of those rocks. Place to be: Wonju airbase, central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The days of this South Korean F-4E Phantom are numbered: the F-35A will take its place. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The days of this South Korean F-4E Phantom are numbered: the F-35A will take its place. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
As many as 134 RoKAF KF-16s are selected for a radar and avionics upgrade (Image © Elmer van Hest)
One of many dozens of RoKAF KF-16s. (Image © Elmer van Hest)