by Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
2/26/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Pilots
from the U.S. Air Force, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and Royal
Australian Air Force conducted large force employment training here Feb.
19-27 as part of Exercise Cope North 2015.
This year marks the 86th iteration of the multilateral training exercise
which is a long-standing, multinational event designed to increase
interoperability and improve combat readiness and develop a synergistic
disaster response capability between the countries involved. Two major
focus areas of the exercise included humanitarian aid and disaster
relief in the first half, followed by LFE in the latter portion of Cope
The LFE is considered a more traditional air combat exercise where a
large number of fighter aircraft come together with aerial refuelers and
command and control aircraft in complex air combat scenarios while
employing offensive and defensive counter air techniques. Offensive
counter air is where the pilots practiced going in a large formation of
aircraft to conduct bombing campaigns on a target location at the
Farallon de Medinilla Range 160 nautical miles north of Guam, and
defensive counter air is where they protected an area from simulated
"There's lots of stuff going on in this scenario, lots of different
aircraft," said RAAF Group Capt. Phil Gordon, Cope North 15 RAAF
exercise director. "It's very complex and that complexity of training is
what is really valuable to us because having those differences, having
those different assets is something that we're going to see in
real-world operations ..."
The beginning of the training scenarios started with dissimilar air
combat training that featured smaller formations of aircraft fighting
each other to build up and gain understanding of techniques and
procedures of the countries working together, progressing to larger
formations as the days went on with up to 50 aircraft in the air at one
time working on the same scenario. In total, the pilots flew more than
1,450 missions and delivered nearly 100 weapons in the nine-day period.
"As a pilot it's very awesome because we can learn a lot from each other
-- because we have our different stuff, we have different tactics,
procedures -- so we can understand each other, and personally it's very
fun," said JASDF Capt. Kento Yamasaki, Cope North 15 pilot, in regards
to working with the Australian and U.S. forces.
In addition to the traditional air combat scenarios, mobility aircrews
tested their ability to conduct airdrops in hostile areas, and for the
first time, RAAF members joined a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircrew
to observe and exchange airdrop techniques. The U.S. members received
training on dropping the RAAF heliboxes, a small box with flaps shaped
like rotor blades that can hold approximately 15 pounds of supplies,
while the RAAF observed low-cost, low-altitude airdrops to gain better
understanding of the process to be able to apply that capability on
their own in the future.
"...interoperability is the biggest thing we're getting out of it," said
U.S. Air Force Maj. Matt Andrews, Cope North 15 chief exercise
instructor. "Ideally if we do this together in a training environment,
it'll go smoother in combat."
Andersen AFB started hosting Cope North annually in 1999, but the event
was previously held in Japan up until that point as often as four times
per year. The next Cope North exercise is slated for early 2016.