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COPE NORTH 11-1: U.S., Japan strengthen ties, enhance air operations

  • Published
  • By By: Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and units from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force began exercise COPE NORTH 11-1 here Feb. 13. The exercise, which lasts until Feb. 25, is the latest in a series of bilateral exercises designed to enhance both countries' air operations.

The purpose of the exercise is to provide a venue for bilateral cooperation and improve capabilities for the defense of Japan. This is the largest COPE NORTH exercise ever executed by Pacific Air Forces, with nearly 50 percent more sorties than last year's exercise.

"Exercise COPE NORTH is an outstanding opportunity to work and train together over the next thirteen days, furthering our interoperability and honing our tactics, techniques and procedures," said Col. Marc Reese, 13th Air Force Detachment 1 commander. "Through this exercise we continue to build strong relationships and friendships that will serve us well as we embark on the next 50 years of the U.S.-Japan alliance."

This will be the eleventh iteration of the field training exercise conducted at Andersen and the fifth time the JASDF has dropped live bombs at Farralon De Medinilla Range in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

The first COPE NORTH took place from November 27 to December 1, 1978, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The exercises are scheduled up to two times each year with the last held Feb. 7 through the 19, 2010.

The U.S. has approximately 600 participants and the JASDF have approximately 300 participants involved in the exercise.

U.S. Forces participating in the event include the 14th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa AB, Japan, (F-16CJ Fighting Falcons); 18th Aggressor Squadron, 354th Fighter Wing, Eielson AFB, Alaska, (F-16 C/D Fighting Falcon); 36th Airlift Squadron, 374th Air Wing, Yokota AB, Japan, (C-130 Hercules); 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron, 18th Wing, Kadena AB, Japan, (E-3B Sentry); VAQ-136, Carrier Air Wing Five, Atsugi, Japan (EA-6B Prowler); VAW-115, Atsugi, Japan, (E-2C Hawkeye); and 506 Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, Andersen AFB, Guam, (KC-135).

JASDF units participating include the 201st Squadron, Chitose AB, Japan, (F-15J Eagle); 601st Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan (E-2C Hawkeye); and 8th Squadron, Misawa AB, Japan (F-2).

Since the first COPE NORTH exercise in 1978, thousands of American and Japanese Airmen have honed skills vital to maintaining a high level of readiness.

"COPE NORTH 11-1 is a testament to our two countries' commitment to the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty," said Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander. "A treaty that, after 50 years, continues to serve as the cornerstone for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region."