PAF personnel gain from Cope Thunder exercises

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO---Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilots, technicians and other personnel benefitted from the series of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) in the ongoing Cope-Thunder 23-1 exercises with the US Pacific Air Forces at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

Cope Thunder 23-1 also known as Ct-Ph 23-1, which runs from May 1 to 12, is aimed at coordinating the various offensive and defensive tactics of different aircraft.

On Tuesday, Air Force spokesperson Colonel Ma. Consuelo Castillo said the PAF technicians were briefed on the infrared homing air-to-air missile AIM-9 missile launcher (also known as the "Sidewinder") maintenance during last May 4 to 5.

"The Pacific Air Forces engaged in various SMEE, during the Cope-Thunder 23-1 exercise held at Clark Air Base and Basa Air Base in Pampanga. Topics discussed include the AIM-9 missile launcher maintenance, mission planning cell (MPC) operations, communication security organization, and the dedicated crew chief program," she said.

The objectives of these SMEEs, she added, is to enhance the knowledge of PAF mission planners, communications operators and maintenance officers and personnel in the performance of their roles in various operations necessary for mission accomplishment, she added.

"The PAF 5th Fighter Wing also engaged in defensive counter air training during the Cope-Thunder 23-1 exercise at Clark Air Base to enhance interoperability between forces and safeguard critical and protected assets in the Philippines," Castillo said.

The training and drills involved F-16 fighter jets of the US Air Force flying in pairs with FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers of the PAF.

AIM-9, the primary armament of the FA-50PH light jet fighters along with its 20mm automatic cannons. "Sidewinder" is also among the air-to-air weapons of all American jet fighters.

Around 400 PAF airmen and 160 USAF service members are currently taking part in the first round of training, Castillo said.

“Besides fighter aircraft, there will be an involvement of cargo aircraft because we would need to simulate movement of a large fleet together with all the support equipment and support personnel,” Castillo ssid. “If there are certain regional security concerns that we have to respond to in tandem with other air forces, we need to move as a big fleet.”

PAF Captain Ferdinand Carlos Jose said Cope Thunder is a good opportunity for Filipino military pilots.

“They (US) are giving us high standards of training that they’ve got from the [Fighter] Weapons School. They’re sharing what they’ve learned from high-level training facilities so it’s a very good opportunity for us,” he said.

The second iteration of the air exercise, dubbed CT-Ph 23-2 will be held from July 2 to 21.

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