PH, US to hold cope-thunder exercise 23-1

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STATE troops will participate in the Cope Thunder 23-1, a military exercise between the Philippines and the United States, which will take place with the primary flight operations happening at Clark Air Base, Pampanga.

The exercise held on May 1-12, 2023, involves around 160 USAF service members and 400 PAF Airmen from different PAF units.

The focus of the exercise is on Air to Air Operations and Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEEs).

CT-Ph23-1 and CT-Ph23-2 are the 2 iterations of CT within the year, with respective covered dates: CT-Ph 23-1 (01-12 May 2023); CT-Ph 23-2 (02-21 July 2023).

A key component of CT-Ph 23-1 is the Mission Planning Cell (MPC), responsible for planning and coordinating the integration of different aircraft and the execution of Defensive Counter Air (DCA) and Offensive Counter Air (OCA) operations.

The MPC will work closely with Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEEs) to ensure that all participating personnel are trained and ready to undertake the mission.

The first week will focus on DCA operations. These involve the identification, tracking, and interception of enemy aircraft in the vicinity of friendly forces.

To support these operations, SMEEs on maintenance and security forces training will be conducted.

These SMEEs will provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain their equipment and ensure security in the operational field.

Week two will focus on OCA operations, which involve offensive attacks on enemy aircraft and ground targets.

These operations require a high degree of coordination and planning, which will be facilitated by the MPC and SMEEs.

The exercise aims to provide an opportunity for PAF and PACAF to enhance their capabilities and readiness to respond to potential threats in the region.

The original Cope Thunder exercises, which provided regular flight training for US pilots and those of allied nations, were first held in 1976 and continued annually in the Philippines until 1990. CT-Ph23-1 marks the revival of the bilateral exercise between the two Air Forces after more than three decades.

Catherine R. Cueto

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