Aussies gone north to Guam to cope with big test

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has deployed a significant contingent to Guam to participate in Exercise Cope North 2017 – a high-end air-combat and humanitarian-assistance exercise.

CAPTIONParticipants from Japan and Australia at Exercise Cope North 17 pose for a photograph in front of an American B-1B Lancer at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Photo by Sergeant Amanda Campbell.

Up to 12 F/A-18A Hornets from Number 3 Squadron at RAAF Williamtown have all been assigned to Exercise Cope North and will be operating alongside aircraft from the United States and Japan.

The exercise aims to develop and improve combat readiness, humanitarian assistance procedures and increase the interoperability between the three forces of the United States, Australia and Japan.

Group Captain Tim Alsop is the Australian Commander for the exercise and said there were great opportunities to gain from Cope North.

“This is the sixth time Australia has participated in the exercise. Every year we gain more appreciation of how our equipment, aircraft and personnel operate together in this environment,” he said.

“Cope North gives us the opportunity to validate how effective our training is in a complex and demanding air combat scenario.”

Number 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning aircraft will also deploy for the exercise and provide a command and control capability.

A C-130J Hercules is participating in Exercise Cope North as part of the humanitarian assistance scenario and will provide an air drop capability and combat search and rescue element.

In addition, a combat support element and aeromedical evacuation team has deployed to enhance interoperability between Australian, United States and Japanese forces.

Cope North is held at Andersen Air Force base in Guam and hosted by the United States Pacific Air Force.

Defence PR, in contradiction of Group captain Alsop, said this was the fifth time the RAAF has participated in Cope North Guam, a bi-annual exercise that started 1978.

This year’s exercise will run until 3 March.

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Brian Hartigan

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