U.S. Air Force Airmen and Philippine Air Force personnel conducted bilateral fighter training operations and Subject Matter Expert Exchanges at Clark, Basa, and Mactan Air Bases and other areas within the Philippines in support of exercise Cope Thunder 23-2, July 2-21. More than 500 U.S. Air Force Airmen participated in the exercise with approximately 15 aircraft from a variety of different units including F-22 Raptors from the 199th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and A-10 Warthogs from the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Meanwhile, their 495 PAF counterparts flew FA-50s and A-29s for a total of 77 sorties and 183 flying hours during CT 23-2.
“The continuous planning and execution of arrangements between the Philippines and the United States will greatly enhance and grow the ties between the air forces. It is undoubtedly a good habit to promote peace, stability and an open and free Indo-Pacific region,” said PAF Col. Alfred Sarmiento, 5th Fighter Wing director of operations, during the closing ceremony of CT 23-2.
“From an exercise standpoint, everyone walked away with some good lessons learned, and we all increased our capabilities so much more. We don’t know when our training will be called upon to be executed, so it’s incumbent on all of us to be ready at any time,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Razvan Radoescu, 355th Operations Group commander.
Flying operations during CT 23-2 gave both allied partners the opportunity to train side by side, increasing familiarity with each others’ tactics and enhancing interoperability and lethality, all in the support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Alongside flying operations, SMEEs were conducted by U.S. Airmen and their PAF counterparts at Clark, Basa, and Mactan Air Bases and other areas within the Philippines. Experts conducted exchanges on 14 different topics from airfield management and logistics to security forces combatives training. The United States is committed to an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient. To realize that future, the United States will strengthen its own role while reinforcing the region itself.