During the Cope Thunder 2023-2, air operations exercise held on July 8, 2023, the Philippine Air Force and the U.S. Air Force joined forces in a Defensive Counter-Air (DCA) exercise. The Philippine Air Force deployed four FA-50 aircraft, while the U.S. Air Force contributed four A-10 Warthogs and four F-22 Raptors. The exercise commenced with the aircraft taking off from Clark Air Base in Mabalacat City, Pampanga, and conducting simulated DCA operations in the Military Training Areas East of Luzon. Approximately 225 service members are expected to fly, maintain, and support aircraft such as C-130 Hercules, A-10 Warthogs and F-22 Raptors from multiple participating units during this iteration of the exercise.
The objective of the defensive counter-air exercise is to enable coordinated air operations among aircraft of different types, encompassing airspace control, threat identification and engagement, and mutual support. Through this collaborative endeavor, the participating forces aimed to enhance their interoperability, refine tactical approaches, and bolster their overall effectiveness in countering airborne threats. Strengthening alliances and partnerships with key allies like the Philippines, creates a network of security capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability, and ensuring free access to common domains in accordance with international law.
A successful two-day Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) on Air Domain Awareness took place on July 6-7, 2023, at the Officers’ Club House, Clark Air Base, Mabalacat City, Pampanga. This event brought together personnel from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the Air Defense Command (ADC) the U.S. Air Force 736th Security Forces Squadron was carried out as part of the Cope Thunder Exercises from 04-08 July 2023 at Clark Air Base and Basa Air Base. The extensive discussions and practical exercises focused on PAF and USAF force protection Tactics, Techniques and Procedures ( TTPs) and understanding of combined and joined security operations.
Cope Thunder is designed to provide bilateral fighter training with the Philippine Air Force and improve combined interoperability. This iteration has a specific emphasis on expeditionary operations. The U.S. and Philippine service members will exercise together to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures within the Indo-Pacific.Cope Thunder began in the Philippines in 1976. It was moved to Eielson Air Force Base in 1992, and eventually renamed Red Flag Alaska. This is the first year Cope Thunder returned to Philippines since 1990 and provides a unique opportunity to integrate forces and improve interoperability between the Philippines and the United States.