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Cope North

The purpose of the Cope North exercise, held two to three times per year, is to enhance U.S. and Japanese air operations. Cope North is one of the longest series of bilateral exercises held in the Pacific theater.

Since the first Cope North exercise in 1978, thousands of American and Japanese airmen have honed skills vital to maintaining a high level of readiness. Cope North is all about the defense of Japan. Under the Mutual Defense Treaty, the U.S. is obligated to assist in the defense of Japan. Typical training scenarios test pilots' ability to defend territory from intrusion. The first day included two-ship flights defending under peacetime rules of engagement. As the scenario unfolds, packages grew larger and wartime rules were introduced. Americans and Japanese alternated attack and defense roles.

Following each day's duels, Japanese pilots shuttle north to Kadena from their operating location at Naha Airport in a CH-47 helicopter for a comprehensive debrief with their American allies. The 10-minute debriefing during the helicopter flight payed big dividends. The aggressor talked about his plan and the defender spoke of his. Each benefited from the lessons of the mission.

Cope North is both a challenging and educational event. Tankers, AWACS, fighters and all the support elements from both countries work together toward enhancing their combat capabilities. Exercising combined skills here gives us the chance to work on relationships both in the air and on the ground. The ultimate goal of Cope North is to develop and improve techniques that enhance bilateral air operations for the purpose of being able to better provide for the defense of Japan.

U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self Defense Force units conducted exercise Cope North Guam '00 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, beginning May 30. Cope North Guam '00, which ran until June 3, was a regularly-scheduled bilateral exercise and is the latest in the bilateral exercise series designed to enhance both countries' air operations. This marked the second time that Cope North was conducted outside of Japan. The previous time was in 1999, also held at Andersen. U.S. aircraft deploying to Guam for the exercise were F-16CGs from the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; and an E-3B from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The JASDF deployed F-15Js from the 6th Air Wing at Komatsu Air Base, Japan; and E-2Cs from the JASDF's Northern Aircraft Control and Warning Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan. This Cope North exercise had been in the planning stages for several months and bears no connection to any real-world events.

With the successful deployment of fighter aircraft outside of Japan for only the third time in its history, Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s took to the South Pacific skies June 7 to train with their U.S. counterparts in Exercise Cope North Guam 2001. During this year's two-week exercise, pilots from both countries will conduct training in air combat tactics, electronic combat and airborne air control. The training pits U.S. pilots against Japanese pilots in scenarios in which one side tried to defend its airspace while the other side attempted to penetrate it. Participating in the exercise were ten JASDF F-15 Eagles from the 2nd Air Wing, Chitose Air Base, Japan; an E-767 airborne warning and control system from Hamamatstu AB, Japan; 16 U.S. Air Force F-16s from Misawa AB and one E-3 AWACS aircraft from Kadena AB; and two Marine EA-6Bs from Iwakuni Naval Air Station. And while pilots test their air-combat skills far above the skies of Guam, the 30 Air Force, Marine and JASDF aircraft provided a constant workload for the 150 Air Force and 76 JASDF maintainers. Cope North Guam 2001 also marked the debut deployment of the JASDF E-767. Based at Hamamatstu Air Base, Japan, the E-767 is six feet longer than the Boeing 707, has 50 percent more floor area, nearly twice the cabin volume, and can fly higher, faster and remain on station longer without re-fueling than the U.S. E-3 AWACS aircraft. The exercise also marked the first time the U.S. Air Force E-3 and JASDF E-767 aircraft have been operationally co-located -- sharing not only ramp space, but aircrews as well.

In November 2001 American fighter jets flew across the sky headed for defense sectors near Okinawa. One aircraft has penetrated one of the sectors and is showing hostile intent. An American pilot vectors toward the intruder and finally gets a visual. The F-4 belongs to Japan's Air Self Defense Force, which teamed up with U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps units to test their ability to defend Japan through an exercise named Cope North 02-1. More than 70 people deployed to Okinawa to join units from Kadena's 18th Wing for the weeklong drill. At the pinnacle of the exercise, more than two-dozen aircraft battled for air supremacy.

Because of real-world concerns and unit deployments, the exercise was scaled back to roughly one-third of the original package and compressed into one week rather than two. But that didn't make it easier on planners. Fifth Air Force and all the units involved demonstrated a great deal of flexibility to get this exercise off the ground and in the books. After more than 250 sorties, hours of spin-ups and debriefings, tactics talk and lessons learned, American and Japanese pilots are better prepared to defend this country -- together.

During normal training, U.S. weapons directors only control American aircraft and Japanese control their own planes. Exercise Cope North, held at Kadena Nov. 12-16, gave directors from both nations the opportunity to control each other's aircraft. With safety monitors available if required, American weapons directors controlled Japanese fighters and vice versa. These indirect advisory missions provide invaluable training and a better understanding of each other's combat capability.

Working out of the Southwestern Direction Center in Naha, the 623rd's Theater Control Operations Team builds pilots' real-time situational awareness. Employed in conjunction with the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron's E-3 and Japanese E-767 AWACS, this integrated air defense system provides the command and control necessary to effectively employ air power. Weapons directors identify and track all aircraft in assigned sectors around the island. Much like the AWACS, their ground-based scopes display the progress of a battle while directors provide information to pilots about how many bad guys are out there, where they are and the status of friendly forces.



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