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U.S., Indonesian Air Forces Conclude Exercise Cope West 2018

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Exercise Cope West 2018, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral tactical fighter aircraft exercise involving the U.S. and Indonesian air forces, concluded with a closing ceremony at the Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Indonesia, March 23.

The exercise is designed to advance interoperability and build upon established partnerships between the air forces, officials said.

“Cope West highlights the importance of airpower and international interoperability, as we work toward expanding our capabilities together,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Walter J. Sams, mobilization assistant to the commander of the 7th Air Force. “The professional bond and friendships that developed during this exercise are very important to enhancing security cooperation and advancing the strategic partnership between Indonesia and the United States.”

Sharing Techniques

During the exercise, the air forces flew a combined 136 sorties and shared techniques in aircraft generation and recovery, close air support training and air-to-air fighter training, combat search and rescue and aircraft maintenance.


“The airmen here have exchanged ideas and tactics, developed means for a better common operating picture to ensure improved communications, and have taken steps toward an even better cope west in the future,” Sams said.

The exercise was developed to advance interoperability and build upon established partnerships between U.S. military forces and Indonesian air forces. Approximately 110 U.S. personnel participated in the exercise, along with approximately 150 service members from the Indonesian air force.

The exercise involved U.S. Air Force F-16C/D Fighting Falcons from the 13th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Wing, based out of Misawa Air Base, Japan, and F-16 fighters from the Indonesian air force as well as U.S. airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan.

Security Partnership

“It is important to remember that no single nation can ensure security and stability on its own. A combined effort is required, and this exercise serves as an example to other nations in the region about the benefits of working together,” Sams said. “All of the mission briefings, cross-talk and lessons learned gained from this exercise are instrumental to our respective countries and services.”

The exercise wasn’t only about building military partnerships; it was also a chance for airmen to interact with the community. To show apparition, the air forces joined together to host a public open house, March 17.

“Without the support of the community, we wouldn’t be able to have exercises like Cope West,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller, commander of the 13th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. “This open house was one way we could show our appreciation for their continued hospitality.”

On display was a U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 13th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. The Indonesian air force also displayed their F-16C, an H-225M Cougar helicopter and a CN-295 military transport aircraft.

“This was a great opportunity for our airmen to interact with the community and to show them our aircraft,” Moeller said. “Open houses like this also help build upon our growing military partnership and fosters a positive relationship between the U.S. and Indonesian community.”

Cope West is a recurring exercise that has occurred since 1989. This year marked the sixth time Cope West has been hosted in Indonesia.

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