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Multinational exercises demonstrate combat airpower at Cope North 2024

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Cope North 24 completed its first full weeks of operations, showcasing a multinational combat airpower strength amid rising geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The scenarios have been designed to allow our aviators to exercise agile operational concepts that enhance force projection, resilience and survivability of our allied air combat forces,” said Captain Kylie Green of the Royal Australian Air Force.

According to a press release from Andersen Air Force Base, the exercises focused on integrating commanders and junior enlisted ranks, with allies and partners leading the exercise for the first time in a trilateral command structure.

The coalition is led by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Thomas Palenske, Royal Australian Air Force Group Captain Kylie Green and Japan Air Self-Defense Force Colonel Hideaki Miyake.

“The reason interoperability is now a staple for coalition forces is that it helps to foster the exchange of information and refine shared tactics, techniques, and procedures. This better integrates multilateral defense capabilities and enhances regional security,” AAFB said.

Approximately 1,700 U.S. airmen, marines and sailors are training alongside 700 service members from Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, French Air and Space Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force.

“We will not only be interoperable, but interchangeable,” said Palenske. “With Cope North 24 being a multinational exercise, our people need to know how our allies and partners operate and be agile to adapt to any changes, because you never know what may happen. I trust the other nations to lead my airmen well through this exercise.” 


Cope North 2024 kicked off on Feb. 5 and will conclude on Feb 23.


“CN24 participants are exercising this interoperability through agile, integrated generation of airpower from dispersed locations across the Indo-Pacific, demonstrating allied airpower resilience and survivability in a contested environment,” the AAFB said.

Training exercises were held at Northwest Field and A.B. Won Pat International Airport on Guam as well as Saipan and Tinian.

“With minor setbacks, we have successfully launched multiple sorties and proved the limitations of the KC-135 and what is required to be completely self-sufficient in an uncertain environment,” U.S. Air Force Capt. Tim Shenk of Saipan detachment said in an AAFB article.

“We hope that in future Cope North exercises, we can send partner aircraft to Saipan to ensure everyone is getting the training and experience of forward deploying in this environment," Shenk added.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ken Nakanishi, lead interpreter for Cope North 24 Tinian West, said having a diverse group of people working together has created a learning environment for every participant.

"That helps us attack any problem from different angles, avoiding being stuck in one perspective and increasing that flexibility," Nakanishi said.

"On a larger scale, you’re looking at the fact that we have all these nations working together to project a massive force of deterrence against near-peer adversaries in the Indo-Pacific," he added.

A KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 153 unloads cargo during Cope North 24 at Tinian Feb. 08, 2024. Marines of Marine Aircraft Group 12 traveled from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and trained at Tinian during their participation in Cope North 24. Allies and partners during the multilateral exercise, Cope North 24, trained together to improve shared tactics and multilateral defense capabilities. Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. David Getz

During the exercise, the RAAF and the U.S. Air Force conducted a real-life aeromedical evacuation, deploying a combined medical team and a RAAF C-27J Spartan that flew to Micronesia to rescue a U.S. service member requiring medical care in Guam.

According to the Australian Air Force, the 35 Squadron crew and medical personnel were set to conduct aeromedical evacuation training as part of Cope North when they were advised of the real-world situation.

“Personnel had to rapidly pivot to re-plan the new mission, considering crew duty limitations and saving time by configuring the aircraft during the transit to Micronesia,” the RAAF said in a press release.

“Multiple members of the multinational task force and 35 Squadron detachment worked tirelessly while the plane was en route to ensure all the diplomatic and medical processes were completed,” said Flight Lt. Calum Jackson, detachment commander. “Overall, it was a very challenging mission which could only be achieved through a combined effort of multiple different teams.”

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