Jets roar as US, Japan, Australia drill in Pacific



An Australian fighter jet is readied for a training mission at the Cope North military exercises at Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. island of Guam, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Fighter jets from the U.S. and two key allies roared into Western Pacific skies Thursday in the combat phase of exercises that have gained importance as the region responds to the rise of China and other potential threats. The Cope North exercises—which could soon swell in participants—are aimed at preparing the air forces of the U.S., Japan and Australia to fight together if a military crisis erupts. AP Photo/Eric Talmadge

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam— Fighter jets from the U.S. and two key allies roared into western Pacific skies Thursday in the combat phase of annual exercises that have gained importance as the region responds to the rise of China and other potential threats.

The Cope North drills — which could soon swell in participants — are aimed at preparing air forces of the U.S., Japan and Australia to fight together if a military crisis erupts. They also send a vivid reminder to Beijing that America’s regional alliances are strong, though officers leading the maneuvers say they are not looking to bait the Chinese military.

“The training is not against a specific country, like China,” Japan Air Self-Defense Force Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka said. “However, I think (the fact) that our alliance with the U.S. and Australia is healthy is a strong message.”

The three allies began flying sorties together earlier in the week around the U.S. territory of Guam in a humanitarian phase of the exercises, dropping emergency assistance in packages that wafted down under parachutes to jungle airfields. On Thursday, fighter jets were joined by bombers, transport planes and tankers that refuel the fighters in midair. For the first time, Japanese tankers were joining the drills.

U.S. officials said they believe more allies, particularly New Zealand and the Philippines, will join the exercises soon.

Maneuvers like Cope North are a key element of Washington’s evolving strategy in the Pacific as the U.S. shifts its emphasis away from Afghanistan and fighting ground wars. It is now placing more attention on Asia and the possibility of an air or sea confrontation with the rapidly modernizing Chinese military, which has been briskly improving its forces and using its growing muscle to back up territorial claims that have raised regional tensions.

This “Pacific rebalance” will bring newer and more advanced aircraft and ships to the Pacific theater over the next several years and spread out the tens of thousands of U.S. troops now primarily based in Japan and South Korea. U.S. Marines have already begun rotational deployments to Darwin, in northern Australia, and about 9,000 Marines stationed on the southern Japan island of Okinawa are to be moved to this tiny island, Hawaii and other locations.

The changes reflect a deepening strategic concern over the rise of China as a regional military power with the potential to challenge Washington’s ability to intervene in a crisis, particularly around Taiwan or islands in the south and east China seas that are contested by China and U.S. allies such as the Philippines and Japan.

But the emphasis on alliance-building through exercises like Cope North also underscores fears in the Pentagon that major budget cuts looming in Congress could make it difficult for Washington to shoulder the whole burden of keeping China in check.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Herbert Carlisle said he believes the budget cuts now being considered could threaten America’s role as a superpower. He noted that China’s military, and especially its navy, have been undergoing a “massive buildup” and are becoming a more credible challenge to their U.S. counterparts.

So, strategic alliances are now more important than ever.

“The United States and our partners are taking ‘joint’ to the next level,” he said. “The amount of commerce that goes through here, the amount of the world GDP that goes through here, if you look at the world’s population that is in this part of the world, the importance of the Pacific can’t be overstated.”

Washington’s renewed focus on Asia has generally been welcomed by its more-established and prosperous allies — like Japan and Australia — because they share the U.S. concerns that changes in the balance of power could hurt economic growth throughout the region.

“I think nations throughout the region are looking for that increased support that working with the U.S. is likely to bring,” said Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore Anthony Grady. “Australia welcomes the refocus.”

Japan also has a more urgent need to tout its U.S. alliance.

Its coast guard ships and fighter aircraft have been deployed frequently over the past several months to drive their Chinese counterparts away from a group of small uninhabited islands that both nations claim as their own. The dispute has soured diplomatic and trade relations and shows no sign of abating.

Under a treaty, the U.S. is obliged to come to Japan’s assistance if the islands are attacked or occupied. Hironaka noted that during Cope North, which involves about 1,700 troops, Japanese fighter jets will conduct needed bombing training that they cannot do in their own country because of crowding and safety restrictions.

“Training with the U.S. is very important to us,” he said. “The U.S.-Japan alliance is key to security in the region.”

Not all Asian nations have been so receptive to the U.S. Pacific policy.

Some countries have expressed doubts about how far the United States would be willing to go to support them in a crisis, especially since China is one of Washington’s most important trading partners. Others have voiced concerns that exercises like Cope North send a confrontational message that might lead to higher tensions.

Carlisle acknowledged that is a possibility.

“I think the PRC has a tendency to look at things in a different light,” he said. “I think they may take this as something different than it is intended.”

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  • Jarred Pulido

    WE are not without friends

  • frank

    siguro ang role ng pilipinas ay taga bilang ng eroplano…

  • Andres Bonifacio

    I truly believe Filipino pilots are the best in the world…unfortunately we don’t have the war planes to show how good we are! How sad…..

  • billy gunner

    it’s good that we are joining the drills. kaya lang moral support lang yata tayo doon.

    • WeAry_Bat

       ano yung sa UAAP…mga cheerleaders…panalo tayo dun…

  • Night

    kapag dumating na yung 12 FA-50 natin!! pwedeng pwede na tayo sumali diyan kahit 2 lang ipadala natin!!!


    • Facilitator1

      Kabayan, kahit mga TORA TORA planes ay pwedeng isama sa AIR COMBAT EXERCISE. Yun nga lang hindi pwedeng mga AERIAL COMBAT (FRONT LINE or AIR SUPERIORITY) sorties ang sasalihan. Baka CLOSE AIR SUPPORT sorties sa mga ground troops.

      Ang importante ang TACTICs ang matutuhan ng mga PINOY FLYERS at ang INTER-OPERABILITY ng mga different AIR platforms. Pero ang pinaka-matinding benepisyo ay ang CAMARADERIE and EXPERIENCE na makukuha/matutuhan ng bawat kawal ng mga bansa.Kahit gaano katindi o HIGH TECH ang eroplano mo, mapupusoy ( o matatalo) ka kung hindi mo alam gamitin ang TECHNICAL ADVANTAGE ng eroplano mo to ensure the highest mission success.

      Multi-national military exercises is not only good to hone and improve combat skills (AIR or GROUND) but it will definitely identify weaknesses/limitations of TACTICS (including, but not limited to COMMAND, CONTROL, COMMUNICATIONS, COMPUTERS, COMBAT SYSTEMS, and INTEL) and EQUIPMENT USED. Furthermore, it will identify/streamline LOGISTICS requirements/shortfalls.


  • Horst Manure

    Control tower to fighter 9….. height and position please?
    Fighter jet  9….  I am  5′ 10″ and sitting up the front.

    • Winzum Daoas

      5’10” would be the proper answer if the man was asked such and if he was so. If they said something like altitude and position please, then the planes altitude would be the response and would go something like 5000ft. at 33degrees northwest of manila

  • Constantine

    China is doomed! They are now cowering in fear! Philippines is now being mentioned as a very important ally of the US, Japan and Australia. It’s just a matter of time that we can retake the scarborough shoal! 

  • catalansbarce

    This is a clear signal for the Chinese govt  not to use their bigness against our smallness.
    Philippines is an ally to USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and etc who are ready to
    help us to defend against China. Stop bullying us China and respect our territorial

  • Public

    “…they believe more allies, particularly New Zealand and the Philippines, will join the exercises soon…”

    good to hear that!

  • zeroko

    First thing first, let’s throw all the Filipino-Chinese to China. They are threat to our national security. Besides, look what Senate President and HOuse Speaker Belmonte Jr. said few months ago, (Last YEar), these two clowns wants to  fast track the legalization on the economic provision of the CHA-CHA and give the Chinese the right to own our lands. Also, both these clowns wants 101% Chinese capitalization on our businesses. Hindi ba TRAITOR ang tawag diyan. We are in the heat of conflict on our territorial sovereignty, and this two clowns wants us to laugh?. Let’s throw them also to China!

    • Andres Bonifacio

      If you are looking for a traitor…look no further that your dear TRILLIANES!

    • Ricgwapo

      We should not stereo-type our Tsinoys.  Most of them are loyal to the Republic. However, we should be observant, if that is possible, on some of them who could be doing espionage work for the PRC, the same as what had happened prior to WWII where some of the Japanese residents in the country spied for their motherland.

      Just watch each others’ back.

    • Eric Altirado

      i think the chinese are now monopolizing most businesses in the country (eg. malls, condo devlpment, etc.),  and i presume the intent of the propose legislation is to provide an equal opportunity to other players like us and european to own land and businesses in the country. i dont know why this cant move forward, is the chinese money at work?. 

    • PHtaxpayer

      Racism has no place in a modern society. Look at what happened to Nazi Germany or Apartheid in South Africa. Only ignorant people use racism as a reason to spread hate which will only weaken national security.

  • tukmoldinako

    Good news, the Philippines can join very soon. lol

  • MostHatedRace

    The whole world against China. Boom!!!!

  • RyanE

    Hmm.. I guess our very own PAF should start repainting those rusty OV-10 Broncos in case they will invite us to participate in the exercises.

    “I think the PRC has a tendency to look at things in a different light,”
    he said. “I think they may take this as something different than it is

    Of course, those bullies cannot think straightforward.

  • Crazy_horse101010

    hope they dont lose a target drone

  • Willie

    The US clearly supports Japan on their Senkaku claim. Will they support the Philippines on our Spratly Islands claim?

  • mga BaBoY sa Goberno

    alliance with all asean nation are also important because the agreesiveness of china to conquer south china sea and close the freedom of navigation.Chinese communist think they are already powerfull enough to contained USA, they have to think twice. with the alliance of UK, France and Germany plus Japan, Australia and the whole Asean members excluding combodia, your fake chinese communist country would fall so better pull out your ship in panatag shoal.

  • Franzeline Perdubal

    China and its arr ogant communist ideals. When they fire that first shot, that’s the end of this civilization.

  • calipso_2100

    “U.S. officials said they believe more allies, particularly New Zealand and the Philippines, will join the exercises soon.”

    Yeah, the Philippines will provide “parking” space for US planes and ships.  And our tora-tora for target practice.

    • Raul

      May tora tora pa ba tayo? Saan naka park? Nahawa ka na yata ni GamayUten at ibang 50 cents na may dlang Mercury at lason. Ligo ka muna sa Manila bay para malinis ang katawan mo ng lason.

    • Dag Erickson

      Calip, you are right. The Philippines will provide parking space as their participation. We are the closest land mass in their area of training.

  • Raul

    Yan na natarnta na ang mga baklang PLA d na alam ang gagawin. Ang siste biglang pinindot ang missile ang direction pala taiwan. Yan ang malaking katarantaduhan dahil sa takot at kabaklaan. 

  • Loy

    The ultimate aim of China is the iron mines in Australia and the only way to reach that country is to overrun the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Hence, it is imperative that the MAPHILINDO allliance is revived not only for economic concerns but more of the military dimension. China studied the Second World War and saw how Japan ran roughshod all the Southeast Asian countries except that it got bogged down in the Philippines. They know that the Filipinos will resist even without arms so it is imperative for them to conquer the Philippines first. They have to provoke our country to give them the alibi to stage an attack. In the meantime, a tactical alliance with Vietnam may be necessary to keep maritime traffic free but guarded in the West Philippine Sea.  Vietnam defeated China in the Paracel Wars.

  • Yanong_OFW

    attention!! mga manananggal puede na kayong sumali sa exercise, i-ready nyo na mga pak2x nyo..

    • tagatabas

       matinong usapan binababoy mo.

      • Yanong_OFW

        bakit guilty kba..are u one of them? LOL

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