The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF) are participating in the 26th edition of Exercise Cope Tiger. Held from 13 to 25 March, the trilateral exercise is being conducted at Korat Air Base, Thailand. A table-top exercise involving all three nations to plan for the exercise was also conducted on 11 March. The flying training phase involves about 70 assets and more than 1,100 personnel in total. The RSAF is participating in the exercise with 24 aircraft [seven F-15SG, six F-16C/D and six F-16D+ fighter aircraft, one G550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft, one A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), one C-130 transport aircraft, and two Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles], five ground based assets and more than 550 personnel. The exercise participants engage in large-scale air defence and strike missions in a challenging environment, sharpening their operational competencies.
This is the first edition of the exercise to involve the RSAF’s A330 MRTT, which provides air-to-air refuelling to fighter aircraft in the exercise, extending their endurance for longer missions. In addition to the flying training, personnel from the three air forces also took part in joint socio-civic programmes to contribute to the local communities in the vicinity of Korat Air Base. Singapore’s Chief of Air Force Major-General Kelvin Khong, Commander-in-Chief of the RTAF Air Chief Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya and Air National Guard Assistant to Commander Pacific Air Forces Major-General David Burgy will officiate at the closing ceremony on 25 March. Strict COVID-19 safe management measures were put in place for the RSAF exercise participants, including pre-departure and on-arrival testing, as well as abidance by a restricted itinerary.
Exercise Cope Tiger seeks to enhance the professionalism and defence relations among the participating air forces, and promote closer rapport and mutual understanding among their personnel. Commenting on the significance of the exercise, the RSAF Exercise Director, Colonel David Kok said, “Exercise Cope Tiger provides invaluable training opportunities for our airmen and women. It helps to hone our ability to plan and execute realistic large-scale air combat operations in both air defence and strike missions, so that we remain operationally-ready and capable in safeguarding Singapore’s skies. Through the mutual understanding and continued commitment by the three air forces, we were able to once again conduct this important trilateral exercise after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. This is a strong testament to the long-standing and close defence relations we have with our RTAF and USAF counterparts.”