Air forces from the United States, Japan and Australia gathered in Guam for exercise Cope North 2021 that will take place between February 3 and 19.
More than 1,800 US airmen, marines and sailors will train alongside 400 combined Koku-Jieitai and RAAF service members, and approximately 95 aircraft from 23 flying units during CN21.
The exercise at Andersen Air Force Base will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, as well as large force employment and combat air forces training.
In a first for Cope North, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter from the 356th Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Wing, Eielson AFB, Alaska, will participate, integrating with Koku-Jieitai and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft. The focus of this integration is on common communications capabilities and web-enabled logistics support.
The exercise kicks off with a HA/DR event to reinforce the three countries’ combined ability to support the Indo-Pacific region during a natural disaster. Operations will take place at Andersen AFB, Guam; Northwest Field, Guam; and Koror and Angaur, Palau.
The fighters will also conduct close air support and offensive and defensive counter-air and aerial refueling missions, concluding with a large force employment exercise designed to increase readiness and interoperability among the three countries.
Participants will also be exercising their agile combat employment, or ACE, concepts during Cope North. ACE allows for more flexibility by operating more freely with allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific, whether that be in a contested environment or in a location without established infrastructure, such as during times of crisis or disaster response.
A multinational task force led by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, or Koku-Jieitai, will ensure training scenarios are conducted during the exercise and reflect real-world situations.
Established in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Cope North moved to Andersen AFB in 1999. It is US Pacific Air Forces’ largest multilateral exercise.