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Nearly 100 aircraft, thousands of troops deploy to Guam for three-nation Cope North drills

Airmen from the United States, Royal Australian Air Force, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force pose for a Cope North 2019 group photo Feb. 20, 2019, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. CN19 is a long-standing exercise designed to enhance multilateral air operations amongst allies and will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief airlift operations as well as large-force employment. Approximately 2,000 U.S. Airmen, Marines, and Sailors will exercise alongside approximately 800 RAAF and JASDF members during the exercise. (Senior Airman Xavier Navarro/U.S. Air Force)

Nearly 100 U.S., Japanese and Australian aircraft are training over the western Pacific Ocean as part of Cope North, an annual exercise that runs until March 8 out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Pacific Air Forces’ largest multilateral exercise, which kicked off Monday, is designed to enhance air operations among the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps as well as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force, according to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

More than 2,000 U.S. airmen, Marines and sailors are training alongside 850 Japanese and Australian counterparts, the command said in a statement announcing the event.

“Additionally, nearly 100 U.S., Japanese and Australian aircraft from 21 flying units will participate,” the command said.

This week the troops are conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief training involving large-force employment, the command said.

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“The exercise’s focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief provides critical training to U.S. and allied forces that has a direct impact on the militaries’ ability to support the region, including Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia,” the command said.

Australia has deployed 16 aircraft and over 450 personnel to participate in Cope North, the RAAF said in a statement Tuesday.

“Twelve F/A-18A Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, two C-27J Spartans, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, a Combat Support Element and an Aeromedical Evacuation Team have deployed to the exercise,” the statement said.

Group Capt. Nicholas Hogan, Australian commander for the exercise, said Cope North is an effective way to strengthen military alliances.

“The exercise will … conclude with air combat and large force employment training, to refine our procedures and operate more effectively alongside our military partners in the region,” he said in the statement.

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© 2019 the Stars and Stripes

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