In a release from the U.S. Air Force yesterday, the 86th iteration of the annual exercise is taking place at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on Feb. 15-27.
According to Tinian Mayor’s Office military policy advisor Eric C. San Nicolas, based on information they gathered from the U.S. Air Force, for this exercise, the Pacific Air Forces planning team has determined that Rota International is best suited to be the “hub” location and Tinian West and/or Tinian North best suited to be “spoke” airfields to accommodate the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief objectives.
It isn’t the first time that Cope North has come to Tinian.
Back on Feb. 5-7, 2013, the HA/DR portion of the Cope North exercise was held on Tinian simultaneously with Guam. Military personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self Defense Force were seen landing C-130s on Tinian in a simulated humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario.
The exercise aimed to demonstrate the capability to rapidly execute establishing an operating airfield at a location in the event of a real-world HA/DR operation.
The Cope North Exercise in 2013 involved about 2,000 personnel: 1,000, U.S.; 450, Japan Self Defense Force; and 300, from the Royal Australian Air Force.
San Nicolas said “Exercise COPE NORTH is an annual multilateral field training exercise that is PACAF funded and conducted at Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB), Guam.”
He said the multilateral field training exercise maintains a Combat Air Force focus emphasizing the exchange/execution of tactics, techniques and procedures, while enhancing the interoperability among a variety of missions/airframes to include U.S. components, the Japan Air Self Defense Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.
He mentioned the participation of the New Zealand Air Force, the Philippine Air Force and the Republic of Korea Air Force.
A key component of the scenario is to develop “hub-and-spoke” operations, with the “spoke” airfields being geographically separated from the “hub” airfield.
San Nicolas said Tinian West Field and Tinian North Field will be used as the “spoke” for the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion of the Cope North Exercise.
“Spoke”, Variety learned, is a term used to refer to an alternate airbase utilized for the transport of supplies/cargo.
Cope North Public Affairs Officer Captain Jessica Tait told Variety that there will be about 1,300 participants from the U.S. Air Force and U. S. Navy; approximately 430 from Japan; the Royal Australian Air Force will have approximately 240 participants; the Republic of Korea Air Force will have 20 participants; and the Royal New Zealand Air Force will send approximately eight.
“Approximately 100 USAF, USN, JASDF, and RAAF aircraft from 23 flying units will participate in the exercise,” Captain Tait earlier said.
As of yesterday, there was no word from PACAF whether the Philippine Air Force had confirmed participation; however, a Philippine Star Feb. 1 article indicated that the Philippines is participating in the Cope North Guam exercise.
Cope North 2015 will, for the first time, involve the participation of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
For the Republic of Korea, this will be its second experience with the Cope North exercise.
Captain Tait said this will be the first time during a Cope North exercise “that the USAF, ROKAF and RNZAF will conduct multilateral personnel recovery and search and rescue operations.”
Cope North coming to Saipan not yet confirmed
Last night, 36th Wing Public Affairs Chief Captain Joel Banjo-Johnson clarified for Variety an earlier release indicated the Cope North Exercise would be coming to Saipan.
“Cope North is still occurring on Guam Feb 15-27; however, plans to have Saipan as one of the locations for a one-day training event in support of this international exercise is not yet confirmed. Once we have information confirmed, we will send out a follow-up release,” Captain Banjo-Johnson said.
An earlier release stated that there would be increased fighter and tanker activity on Saipan Monday, Feb. 9 in preparation for the multilateral Cope North exercise.
The release pointed out that CN15, or Cope North 2015, is designed to enhance each country’s air operations.
Since the first COPE NORTH exercise in 1978 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, thousands of U.S. and Japanese Airmen have honed skills vital to maintaining a high level of readiness, vital to the stability of the region, the release said.
CN15 is the fourth iteration of COPE NORTH as a a trilateral exercise with the U.S., Australia and Japan.
Aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and Royal Australian Air Force fly in formation over the Pacific Ocean in support of exercise Cope North 2013.