Cope Tiger 2016 enhances capabilities through teamwork

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Readiness and continued development of multilateral interoperability remains a key priority for Indo-Asia-Pacific partners participating in the 22nd year of exercise Cope Tiger, a joint multilateral field training exercise that began March 7 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base.

During the two-week exercise, more than 1,200 combined service members and civilians from the U.S., Thailand and Republic of Singapore aim to enhance cooperative relationships and improve procedures in airpower.

“Cope Tiger 16 is a great experience for our Airmen, building upon the exercise’s 22 year history, to deepen relationships with two key Indo-Asia-Pacific partner nations and to reinforce our combined airpower interoperability,” said Lt. Col. Jack Arthaud, the exercise director for the U.S. Air Force. “The flying exercise not only builds (U.S. Air Force) capabilities, but also (Royal Thai Air Force) and (Republic of Singapore Air Force) capabilities by reinforcing common training standards and team work.”

Arthaud explained that by participating in exercises with multilateral military forces, the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Cope Tiger bolsters U.S. Pacific Command’s theater security cooperation and enhances allied interoperability as the three partner countries train side by side.

“The ability for us to work together as a team just to put this exercise together is an amazing accomplishment,” said Col. Sim Pengshin, the exercise director from the Republic of Singapore Air Force. “To then have us fly, conduct mission planning, brief and debrief, as well as work through the problems together, is the best way to strengthen our relationships, and I feel that it improves our readiness and processes.”

There are multiple types of training conducted during Cope Tiger 16, including: mission planning, airborne air control, in-flight air refueling, air-to-air employment including basic fighter maneuvers, electronic warfare, airlift, and close air support.

“The exercise increases the capability and experience of the pilots and gives the aeronautical staff an opportunity to learn from our counterparts,” said Group Capt. Manoon Rukitna, the exercise director for the Royal Thai Air Force. “I am confident that Cope Tiger 16 will enable the participants to increase combat readiness from the intensive training.”

A trilateral Link 16 network is new to this year’s exercise providing a significant increased capability for the Royal Thai Air Force. Link 16 is fundamental to interoperability because it increases mission effectiveness by raising the situational awareness of all the forces on the network facilitating improved team work and safety.

“(U.S. Air Force) Link 16 experts worked closely with both (Royal Thai Air Force) and (Republic of Singapore Air Force) technical experts to ensure that we would have success (with Link 16 data link network) on the first day of the exercise,” Arthaud said. “This is a huge leap in technical capabilities that enhances our effectiveness and partnership.”

Over 220 U.S. personnel are participating in Cope Tiger 16 along with approximately 1,000 service members from the Thai and Singaporean militaries. The exercise involves a combined total of 87 aircraft and 48 air defense assets from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force. The 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, provided 12 F-15 Eagles and one E-3B Sentry (AWACS) to participating in Cope Tiger 16.