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Philippine, US air force personnel hold drills in Pampanga

The Philippine and United States air forces conducted flight exercise operations in Pampanga on Tuesday as part of the newly-revived joint military exercise Cope Thunder.

Around 160 US Air Force (USAF) members trained 400 Philippine Air Force (PAF) personnel on strategies on offensive and defensive air operations in Clark Air Base, Unang Balita reported Wednesday.

The flight exercise used FA-50 and F-16 aircraft.

At Basa Air Base, USAF and PAF personnel also held a basic instructor course and security forces subject matter expert exchanges.

The Philippines and the United States have scheduled two iterations of Cope Thunder for 2023.

According to PAF, the first iteration was scheduled from May 1 to 12, while the second one will be from July 2 to 21.

Cope Thunder aims to enhance the capabilities and readiness of the two air forces to respond to potential threats in the region.

The exercise began in the Philippines in 1976.

Cope Thunder was moved to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska 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