By Tanya M. Champaco Mendiola, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, Public Affairs
YIGO, Guam (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135 is participating in the two-week Cope North 2015 Exercise at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 16-27.
Cope North is a multilateral training exercise conducted annually. This year's Cope North brings U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard units together with service members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Republic of Korea Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
For the past week, VAQ-135 maintenance personnel have shared a flight hangar with members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The shared space has facilitated collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese units.
"It's a great experience," said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Isaiha Williams, a VAQ-135 plane captain. "They ask us questions and we ask them questions. We get to see how other people work. For instance, the Japanese personnel pay great attention to detail just like we do. It's great to know that others work as hard as we do."
VAQ-135 sent a detachment of about 100 personnel to participate with U.S. Pacific Forces in Cope North 2015, said Lt. Jason Smith, VAQ-135 public affairs officer.
"(Cope North) is a chance to bring various forces together," said VAQ-135 Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Moore. "This gives us a chance to become familiar with their capabilities, so if we ever have to fight together with them - and hopefully we don't - we'll be ready."
Exercises like Cope North are important training evolutions that allow service members to increase their readiness posture while collaborating with coalition forces.
"In the modern world, very little is accomplished alone; we are more effective when we work with our allies," Smith said. "We can learn from each other and improve our skills collectively at this exercise."
VAQ-135's aircrew have conducted multiple exercises daily near Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The training enhances their ability to be a mobile unit ready to fight anywhere, Smith said.
VAQ-135, known as the "Black Ravens," is based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. The squadron operates the EA-18G "Growler" aircraft, an electronic attack platform. Mission sets include integration with military assets that require support in the suppression of enemy air defenses.