More than 200 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel have arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam for Exercise Cope North Guam 2015 along with eight F/A-18A/B classic Hornets, a KC-30A tanker transport and a C-130J Hercules airlifter.
Participating forces from the US, Japan and Australia will focus on air combat training and undertake a multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise. Group Captain Phil Gordon, commander of the Australian contingent, stated that Exercise Cope North Guam, which runs from February 15 to 27, will provide opportunities for the RAAF to work closely with key allies to improve interoperability and effectiveness in a multilateral environment.
“Australia has for a long time worked very closely with the US to develop our tactics, techniques and procedures,” GPCAPT Gordon said on February 17. “An exercise such as Cope North gives us the opportunity to validate the effectiveness of our training in a complex and demanding air combat scenario. I am particularly excited to be working with elements of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. I think there is a lot we can learn from each other.”
This is the fourth time the RAAF has participated in a Cope North Guam exercise.
Meanwhile, three weeks of intensive air combat training has wrapped up with the conclusion of Red Flag 15-1 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
A contingent of 150 RAAF personnel and two C-130J Hercules and a AP-3C Orion aircraft deployed to Red Flag, exercising with US and UK forces. The RAAF also sent an Air Battle Management team from 41 Wing, which was tasked with overseeing missions involving more than 60 combat aircraft within the Nevada Test and Training Range.
37 Squadron commanding officer Wing Commander Darren Goldie said the training environment is the best in the world.
“This exercise represents the greatest test for the C-130J’s abilities since it entered RAAF service in 1999,” WGCDR Goldie said on February 13.
Australia has been participating in Red Flag exercises since 1980.