The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) newest capabilities have soared over the coastline of Guam on their first overseas mission together for 2012 during Exercise COPE NORTH.
This is the first time the RAAF has participated in Exercise COPE NORTH, a bi‑annual exercise historically for the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) that started in 1978.
The Super Hornets and Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail aircraft, along with 300 Air Force personnel, have commenced the tri-lateral air defence exercise that allows the aircrew to enhance their tactical skills and joint operational capability alongside military aircraft from the USAF and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).
Six of the ‘Rhinos’ from Amberley’s Number 1 Squadron and a Wedgetail from Williamtown’s Number 2 Squadron have touched down at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, to participate in their first overseas deployment with the JASDF. It is the second overseas deployment for both the Super Hornet and Wedgetail since they were delivered to the Air Force.
Commander of the Australian contingent for the exercise, Group Captain Geoffrey Harland, said the exercise will provide excellent opportunities for RAAF personnel to integrate with a joint task force to learn how other countries operate.
“The training will be invaluable and there will be many important lessons learnt from our participation in this exercise,” Group Captain Harland said.
“Exercise COPE NORTH will allow the aircrew to develop an appreciation of the capabilities and strengths of the different aircraft types which is valuable training for air combat and Surveillance and Response Group personnel who may be required to operate in a coalition environment in the future.”
The international aircraft comprises the USAF’s F‑16s, B‑52s, F‑15Cs, F‑16CJs and KC-135, and JASDF’s F‑15Js, F2s and E2Cs. More than 1,000 military personnel from around the world are expected to participate.
During Exercise COPE NORTH, Number 37 Squadron’s C‑130 will also participate in a separate exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The exercise will run from the 13 to 24 February.
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