Bigger PH-US air combat exercises later this year — PAF
PAMPANGA — More air force personnel from the Philippines and the United States will join the second iteration of the Cope Thunder war games, which recently resumed after over three decades, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said here on Tuesday.
PAF spokesperson Col. Maria Consuelo Castillo said this is due to the nature of the exercise, which will focus on deploying more troops all over the country, including areas in Visayas and Mindanao.
“For the second iteration of Cope Thunder 23-2, the focus of that will be large force deployment,” Castillo said in a chance interview here at Clark Air Base, where the first iteration of military exercise dubbed as “Cope Thunder” is ongoing.
“They plan to simulate the movement of aircraft because here they take off from Clark, they land in Clark. This time around, in a large force deployment, they’re going to simulate a large fleet to another area. So they’re going probably, fly to Luzon and go to Visayas,” she also said.
Castillo said that it is likely that more than 1,000 Filipino and American troops will take part in the coming exercises.
Unlike the first iteration, where fighter jets have been primarily employed, the second iteration of the drills will mainly use cargo aircraft, according to Castillo.
“Besides the fighter aircraft, there will be an involvement of our other support aircraft like cargo aircraft because we would need to simulate the movement of a large fleet and together with all of the support equipment and support personnel, so we would need a cargo aircraft,” she added.
The first iteration of Cope Thunder, joined by 225 American troops and 330 personnel from the PAF, began on May 1 and will run until May 12.
Cope Thunder started in the Philippines in 1976 and went on until 1990.
The exercises were discontinued after the US military left Clark Field and Subic Bay in 1991 due to damage from Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in June of that year and after the Philippine Senate voted against extending the lease on US military facilities in the country.