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Philippines, US air forces revive joint exercise Cope Thunder after 33 years

The Philippine and United States air forces  have revived the Cope Thunder joint exercise 33 years after it was stopped in 1991, the Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs said.

In a statement, the Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs said the exercise is set to start May 1 until May 12.

“It provides a unique opportunity to integrate forces and improve interoperability between the Philippines and the United States,” it said.

This will be the first iteration of Cope Thunder in the Philippines since 1990.

The opening of the Cope Thunder will include primary flight operations over Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

Cope Thunder aims to provide bilateral fighter training with the Philippine and US  air forces and improve their combined interoperability.

Around 160 US Air Force members are expected to fly as well as maintain and support more than 12 aircraft from the 35 Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base in Japan for the exercise.

Armed Force of the Philippines personnel will exchange tactics, techniques and procedures while improving interoperability during the exercise.

Cope Thunder began in the Philippines in 1976.

It was moved to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska in 1992 and eventually renamed Red Flag Alaska, the Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs said.

Cope Thunder was moved to Eielson from Clark Air Base in the Philippines in 1992 after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo forced the curtailment of its operations.

In 1991, the Philippine Senate also rejected the renewal of the US base lease in the country. — Joviland Rita/RSJ, GMA Integrated News