PAF: Revival of PH-US air force drills not directed at any country
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Thursday said the revival its joint drills with the United States Air Force is not directed towards any country and is only aimed at boosting the capabilities of both nations.
After over three decades, “Cope Thunder” exercises resumed this month.
“It is not an activity which is directed towards any country, it is just to prove our capabilities and improve together as defense partners,” said PAF spokesperson Col. Maria Consuelo Castillo in an online interview with reporters.
Castillo said the two countries will employ fighter and airlift aircraft as they simulate large-scale deployment of troops all over the country.
This year’s first iteration of the exercise opened on May 1 and will continue until May 12.
On the first iteration of the exercise, both countries are set to employ fighter jets, while the second iteration of the drills will use cargo airtight aircraft.
“Right now it’s just the F-16 and FA50s involved in the iteration,” Castillo said, referring to fighter jets.
“As for the involvement of other aircraft in the next iteration, definitely aside from fighter aircraft, there will be the involvement of cargo airlift aircraft from both sides since they will both simulate large force employment in other parts of the country, they should also consider the logistics side,” she added.
Cope Thunder started in the Philippines in 1976 and went on until 1990.
The exercises were discontinued after the US military left Clark Field and Subic Bay in 1991 due to damage from the Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in June that year and also after the Philippine Senate voted against extending the lease on US military facilities in the country.