US, Indonesian Air Forces kick off Exercise Cope West 2018

U.S., Indonesian air forces set to participate in Cope West 2018

In this file photo, Indonesian media interview U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mike Compton, Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Pacific Air Forces, during a closing ceremony for exercise Cope West 17 at Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Indonesia, Nov. 11, 2016. First conducted in 1989, Cope West is a Pacific Air Force lead exercise, normally focusing on airlift, air-land and air drop delivery operation techniques. Cope West 17 is the first fighter-focused exercise in Indonesia in 19 years involving the U.S. Military and the Indonesian Air Force.

U.S., Indonesian air forces kickoff exercise Cope West 2018

U.S. Air Force Capt. Joshua LeMair, 13th Fighter Squadron pilot, stands alongside Indonesian military members in the exercise Cope West 18 (CW18) opening ceremony at Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Indonesia, March 12, 2018. CW18 is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral exercise involving the U.S. and Indonesian air forces and is designed to advance interoperability and build upon already established partnerships between the air forces. This year will mark the second time that U.S. fighter aircraft training has taken place in Indonesia in two decades and the sixth time Cope West has been hosted in Indonesia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Ebensberger)

MANADO AIR BASE, Indonesia -- Exercise Cope West 2018 (CW18), a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral exercise involving the U.S. and Indonesian air forces officially kicked off March 12, with an opening ceremony held at the at Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Indonesia.

CW18 is designed to advance interoperability and build upon already established partnerships between U.S. military forces and Indonesian air forces. The exercise will afford both countries the opportunity to exchange techniques in aircraft generation and recovery, close air support training and air-to-air fighter training, combat search, and rescue, and play host to a subject-matter expert exchange in aircraft maintenance.

"Over the next two weeks more than 250 Airmen from our air forces will exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) for conducting aerial combat," said U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Cockrum, Cope West 18 exercise director. "This exchange extends from our pilots, maintainers, support personnel, and special operators."

Approximately 110 U.S. personnel will participate in the exercise along with approximately 150 service members from the Indonesian air force. The exercise will involve approximately 12 aircraft, including U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 13th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Wing based out of Misawa Air Base, Japan, and F-16 fighters from the Indonesian air force as well as Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan.

"This will also be the first time Indonesian and U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces will integrate into Cope West, they will be performing Joint Military Free Fall training and Ground Tactical Air Control operations," said Cockrum.

Cope West is a recurring exercise that has occurred since 1989. This year will also mark the second time that U.S. fighter aircraft training has taken place in Indonesia in two decades and the sixth time Cope West has been hosted in Indonesia.

"I enjoy studying history, and especially aviation history, being part of Cope West is very exciting to me. The history of modern combat aviation can trace many of its roots back to this region of the world," said Cockrum. “More than 80 years ago, Gen. Douglas MacArthur used airpower to accomplish his island-hopping campaign through Southeast Asia. This was an aviation first, today we look back on this effort as the initial foundation for conducting multi-domain joint operations, now it's a capability that our Airmen provide around the world on a constant basis."

U.S. forces routinely conduct operations, exercises and training missions with other countries in the Pacific. These regional engagements are focused on improving interoperability and familiarization with allies and partners to safeguard the freedom of the seas and overflight in international airspace, deter conflict and coercion, and promote regional stability.

"The seeds that we sow over the next two weeks during Cope West, are critical to bearing the fruits of strong defense partnership that will promote security, stability and uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific region," added Cockrum.