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PH, US set 2 iterations of 2023 Cope Thunder joint exercise

The Philippines and the United States have scheduled two iterations of its newly revived joint exercise Cope Thunder for 2023, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said Tuesday.

In a statement, the PAF announced that the first iteration will be held from May 1 to 12, while the second one will be from July 2 to 21.

The first iteration will conduct primary flight operations at Clark Air Base, Pampanga, the PAF said.

According to PAF, the exercise involves around 160 US Air Force members and 400 PAF members from different units.

Air to Air Operations and Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEEs) will be the focus of the exercise, it said.

Among the key components of the exercise are Mission Planning Cell (MPC), responsible for planning and coordinating the integration of different aircraft, and the execution of Defensive Counter Air (DCA) and Offensive Counter Air (OCA) operations.

The first week will focus on DCA operations that involve identification, tracking, and interception of enemy aircraft in the vicinity of friendly forces.

To support these operations, SMEEs on maintenance and security forces training will be conducted, the PAF said.

These SMEEs will provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to maintain their equipment and ensure security in the operational field.

The second week, meanwhile, will focus on OCA operations that involve offensive attacks on enemy aircraft and ground targets.

Cope Thunder aims to enhance the capabilities and readiness of PAF and Pacific Air Forces to respond to potential threats in the region.

The exercise began in the Philippines in 1976.

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/KBK, GMA Integrated News