Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Multi-aircraft mission provides key training in Thailand

by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young
Defense Media Activity-Hawaii

3/9/2010 - UDON THANI ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand -- C-17 Globemaster III aircrews integrated with multiple aircraft types here March 8 to complete an airdrop training mission as part of Cope Tiger 2010.

The C-17s from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, flew in a three-ship formation to conduct airdrops while under escort of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Osan Air Base, South Korea; F-15 Eagles from Elmendorf AFB; and Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons. C-130 Hercules from Yokota AB, Japan, also participated in the mission.

Cope Tiger 2010 is a multilateral exercise in Thailand involving the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and Army, and Republic of Singapore Air Force. U.S. participation is led by 13th Air Force at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii, on behalf of Pacific Air Forces.

Lt. Col. Andy Hird, 517th Airlift Squadron commander at Elmendorf AFB, said the scenario was realistic but also challenging given the multiple airframes involved.

"It was our goal to bring all of these forces together in order to smash the 'bad guys,' get supplies to the 'good guys,' and get out without getting anyone hurt," Colonel Hird said. "That is a real bear to put together, but that is what Cope Tiger is all about."

Capt. Fred Wilson, a C-130 pilot from the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota AB, had the opportunity to sit in a C-17 cockpit during the training mission.

"It's exciting to see how the technology has changed between when the C-130 was built and when the C-17 was built," Captain Wilson said. "[By observing] I get to witness how the C-17 operates, which in turn makes it easier when we work together."

It is rare for C-17s to fly in a three-ship formation. Therefore, it was a great training opportunity for many involved, said Capt. Joseph Leman, deployed to Cope Tiger 2010 from the 517th Airlift Squadron.

"We train at home quite a bit, but it's fun to go to another location and train," Captain Leman said. "It was nice to get training in a big exercise in an area that we're not used to and with different drop zones."

The training mission offered some firsts for the Airmen participating.

"This is my first Cope Tiger and the first time that I've integrated with A-10s," Captain Leman said. "There's a lot involved because we have to be aware of how each other operate. For example, we have to maintain a certain speed so we stay together."

Colonel Hird said that most people who take part in an exercise like Cope Tiger 2010 may never get that type of training again.

"This is an experience that, as Airmen, we all need to grab a hold of and take advantage of," Colonel Hird said.


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