Over 500 PH-US air force troops resume war games after three decades
MANILA, Philippines — After more than three decades, the country and the United States’ air force have revived their military exercise dubbed as “Cope Thunder” this week, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said on Tuesday.
This year’s first iteration of the exercise opened on May 1 and will continue until May 12, or just a few days after the end of “Balikatan” exercises last Friday.
The exercise, involving around 160 US Air Force Service members and 400 PAF Airmen from different Philippine Air Force unit, has been taking place mainly in Clark Air Base, Pampanga.
“The exercise aims to provide an opportunity for PAF and PACAF (Pacific Air Forces) to enhance their capabilities and readiness to respond to potential threats in the region,” the PAF said in a statement.
According to the PAF, the first week of “Cope Thunder” will focus on Defensive Counter Air (DCA) operations, while Offensive Counter Air (OCA) operations are expected on the second leg of the exercise.
“The first week will focus on DCA operations. These involve the identification, tracking, and interception of enemy aircraft in the vicinity of friendly forces. To support these operations, SMEEs (Subject Matter Expert Exchanges) on maintenance and security forces training will be conducted. These SMEEs will provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain their equipment and ensure security in the operational field.
“Week two will focus on OCA operations, which involve offensive attacks on enemy aircraft and ground targets. These operations require a high degree of coordination and planning, which will be facilitated by the MPC (Mission Planning Cell) and SMEEs,” the PAF said.
Meanwhile, this year’s second iteration of Cope Thunder will occur on July 2 to 21.
Cope Thunder started in the Philippines from 1976 until 1990. However, the training stopped after the US military closed its bases in Clark and Subic Bay in 1991 due to damage from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in June that year and also after the Philippine Senate voted against extending the lease on US military facilities.