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Cope West Returns

A man crosses his arms above his head in front of a fighter jet.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Scott Kapellas marshals U.S. Air Force Capt. Zach "Shorty" Charlton into a parking spot during Cope West 21 at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base in Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia, June 17, 2021. The combined training offered at exercise Cope West 21 prepares the U.S. Air Force and Indonesian Air Force to work together in promoting a peaceful Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Kakaris)

A fighter jet soars through fluffy white clouds.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon returns to Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base after air-to-air fighter training during Cope West 21, June 17, 2021. Cope West 21 is designed to enhance the readiness, interoperability and partnership between the U.S. and Indonesian Air Forces. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Kakaris)

A pilot sits inside an F-16 fighter jet.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jay "Bull" Belanus sits in an F-16 Fighting Falcon under a partial aircraft shelter after flying in support of Cope West 21 at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base, in Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia, June 17, 2021. Through operations like Cope West 21, the United States is deepening cooperation across the Indo-Pacific to confront common threats, protect shared resources, and uphold sovereignty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Kakaris)

Men in uniform display their fists, standing in front of a large banner.

Members of the U.S. and Indonesian Air forces, and the planning team for Cope West 21, pose for a photo during the Cope West 21 opening ceremony at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base, Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia, June 14, 2021. The bilateral air-to-air exercise will incorporate approximately 260 service members from both countries, enhancing interoperability, and strengthening the partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Kakaris)

People in uniform stand in front of a fighter jet.

U.S. Air Force Airmen pose for a group photo during Cope West 21 at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base in Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia, June 25, 2021. The combined training offered at exercise Cope West 21 prepares the U.S. Air Force and Indonesian Air Force to work together in promoting a peaceful Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Kakaris)

ROESMIN NURJADIN AIR FORCE BASE, Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia -- --

Airmen from the 35th Fighter Wing took part in Cope West 21, (CW21) a bilateral, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) funded tactical air-to-air fighter aircraft exercise incorporating members from the U.S. and Indonesian Air Forces at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base in Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia, June 14-25, 2021.

CW21 was the first exercise of its kind since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 13th Fighter Squadron as well as 100 airmen from the 35th Fighter Wing accomplished 52 flying missions with the Indonesian Air Force, incorporating subject matter expert exchanges, basic fighter maneuvers and other tactics, techniques and procedures designed to increase combat capabilities, and integration for both countries.

The exercise proved our resolve to work together with our partners, especially amidst challenging times.

“There is no other squadron in PACAF doing this right now,” said Lt. Col. Jordan Kahn, 13th Fighter Squadron commander. “Our success out here is going to reverberate across the Air Force, everyone’s going to see it, and see that it’s possible for us to maintain readiness and get training even in pandemic times.”

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the only challenge that faced the Cope West 21 team.

“We had one aircraft break hard the second day in country and did not have the parts on-hand to fix it,” said Master Sgt. Timothy E. Puckett, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) production superintendent. “We were able to quickly develop a maintenance recovery plan to fulfill our mission requirements and still allow all of our personnel and assets to make it back to Misawa without any drastic delays.”

Teamwork was the defining characteristic of Cope West 21. Airmen deployed 2,000 miles from Misawa Air Base with a small footprint, in line with the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment concept, and partnered with each other and their Indonesian counterparts to make the mission a success.

“It was awesome to see how not only members from the 13th AMU, but members from across the entire 35th Maintenance Group, our partners at Kadena Air Base, and the Indonesian Air Force working together to make it happen” said Puckett.

Even after they’ve returned to Misawa, the impact these Airmen made during CW21 will continue to set the tone as we demonstrate our commitment to promoting a safe and secure Indo-Pacific region.

“Everything these airman have done out here shows the whole world we can do this,” Kahn said. “As well as showing the whole Air Force how to do it right.”