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VFA-82 Participates in Operation Cope Tiger 2005

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050210-06
Release Date: 2/10/2005 1:23:00 PM

By Lt. Perry Solomon, Strike Fighter Squadron 82 Public Affairs

KORAT AIR BASE, Thailand (NNS) -- A detachment of aircraft, pilots and maintainers from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 82 participated in Operation Cope Tiger Jan. 24-Feb. 4. Hosted annually by the Royal Thai Air Force, Cope Tiger is a multinational exercise that brings together air and ground units from Thailand, Singapore and the United States.

During the two-week exercise, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) sent a small detachment of aircraft from each fixed wing squadron to Korat Air Base in Thailand to engage in one-versus-one aerial combat manuevering flights and large force strikes. The Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was on station off the coast of Indonesia providing humanitarian assistance to areas devastated by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

"It was quite a unique training opportunity," said VFA-82's Operations Officer, Lt. Cmdr. James Montgomery. "Normally, the U.S. Navy participates in these types of exercises while operating from the ship. It was great to get face-to-face briefs and debriefs with the other participants in the exercise. Plus it gave us the opportunity to learn about more than just tactics - we got to meet air crew from the region and learn about their culture."

Cope Tiger 2005 emphasized more than just successful employment by individual aircraft. Simulated strikes and air-to-air presentations focused on working together as regional partners in a coordinated fashion. On a daily basis, FA-18C Hornets from VFA-82 flew and fought in mixed formations with Alpha Jets, F-5 Tigers, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and F-15 Eagles from the Royal Thai Air Force, Royal Singapore Air Force and U.S. Air Force, respectively.

"Being on the ramp with all of those other aircraft was a great learning experience for us," said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW) Donald Andrews. "It was great for us maintainers to get to see how other countries operate."

The VFA-82 Marauders put in some long days with only a skeleton crew to maintain the squadron's aircraft. With "winter" temperatures in Thailand consistently reaching the mid-80s, working on the aircraft in the hot and muggy air was reminiscent of a summer in Beaufort, S.C.

"It was hot, humid, and we were working pretty hard," commented Aviation Electronics Mate 1st Class (AW) Michael Calvert. "But the liberty made it well worth it. We got to see and do a lot of neat stuff. The people here are some of the nicest people on earth."

CVW-2 and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group have completed their role in Operation Unified Assistance and will soon begin the transit back to San Diego.

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