The exercise scenario for the final week of COPE North 2019 evolved from a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation to combat air operations after an aggressive nation downed a friendly aircraft. This brought about a combined effort from three nations and an opportunity to integrate and project air superiority to deter further aggression and when necessary, defeat the aggressors.
The tremendous advantage to COPE North is that it brings together about 3,000 Airmen, almost 100 aircraft, 20 different units from three nations, the United States, Australia and Japan. U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force), and Royal Australian air force (RAAF) airmen and assets were able to integrate and demonstrate skills to convert a contested air and ground space into one that allows for the free movement of allied assets.
The 18th Aggressor Squadron, who are specially trained and dedicated to replicate air warfare tactics of the worlds most advanced enemies, provided realistic threat representation of air combat with near-peer adversaries for the high-end fight. Their presence allowed for all three nations to integrate tactics to defeat a future threat.
The allied forces are guided by formidable command and control platforms from all three nations. These aircraft, although different in design, all provide the same function—to gather and distribute information needed for commanders and air operators to gain and maintain absolute control of an air battle and the space in which it takes place.
US forces have the incredible opportunity here to train with the JASDF and their E-2D Hawkeyes and controlling agencies as well as the RAAF EA-7 Wedgetail and their tankers, all working together towards one common goal. Seamless integration and handoff occurred among the nations, proving the ability to distribute information to allies to dominate the air battlespace over land or sea. This happens because of the incredible participation and dedication from Pacific allies.
Koku-Jieitiai has participated in COPE North exercises in Guam since 1999, for 20 years, a considerable participation has demonstrated that the Koku-Jieitiai commitment to peace and stability throughout Indo-Pacific region. That commitment was evident across the alliance not only during air combat sorties, but also on the ground as maintenance personnel from all nations worked together to ensure the safe and efficient operation of airframes.
Launching nearly 900 sorties, the multinational combined airpower was able to posture, operate and project combat air dominance out of an area of roughly five square miles, demonstrating the ability to quickly eliminate threats to peace throughout the region, maintaining stability, safety and security.
Source: US Air Force
Photo credits: U.S. Air Force Photo by Capt. Adam Engelhart, Senior Airman Xavier Navarro
Video by Sgt. Jacob Colvin, Master Sgt. Alexander Farver, Tech. Sgt. Mariko Frazee and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeanette Mullinax