HomeNewsArticle Display

Fighter Squadron returns home with stronger allies, sharper skills

An F-16 Fighting Falcon shoots an AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile off during COPE NORTH 17, Feb. 12, 2017. The HARM's primary mission is to suppress or destroy surface-to-air missile radar and radar-directed air defense artillery systems. Once airborne, it can operate in three modes: preemptive, missile-as-sensor and self-protect. (Courtesy photo by Jim Haseltine)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon shoots an AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM) off during COPE NORTH 17, Feb. 12, 2017. The HARM's primary mission is to suppress or destroy surface-to-air missile radar and radar-directed air defense artillery systems. Once airborne, it can operate in three modes: preemptive, missile-as-sensor and self-protect. (Courtesy photo by Jim Haseltine)

Col. R. Scott Jobe, 35th Fighter Wing commander, displays the 14th Fighter Squadrons cheer “wood” as a pilot taxis by at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. The 14th FS recently returned from exercise COPE NORTH 17 at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, it included 22 total flying units and more than 1,700 personnel from three countries. The purpose was to grow strong, interoperable relationships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region through integration of airborne and land-based command and control assets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

U.S. Air Force Col. R. Scott Jobe, 35th Fighter Wing commander, displays the 14th Fighter Squadron's (FS) cheer “wood” as a pilot taxis by at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. The 14th FS recently returned from exercise COPE NORTH 17 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. It included 22 total flying units and more than 1,700 personnel from three countries. The purpose was to grow strong, interoperable relationships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region through integration of airborne and land-based command and control assets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

F-16 Fighting Falcons are parked on the flightline at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. The 14th Fighter Squadron returned from COPE NORTH 17 which is a long-standing exercise, originating here in 1978, designed to enhance multilateral air operations between the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons on the flightline at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. The 14th Fighter Squadron returned from COPE NORTH 17 which is a long-standing exercise, originating here in 1978, designed to enhance multilateral air operations between the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

Airman 1st Class Shelby Flowers, 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics technician, places a cover on an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. Aircraft returned from COPE NORTH 17, an annual exercise serving as a keystone event promoting stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. COPE NORTH dates back to 1978 when it took place here. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Shelby Flowers, 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics technician, places a cover on an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. Aircraft returned from COPE NORTH 17, an annual exercise serving as a keystone event promoting stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. CN dates back to 1978 when it took place here. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

Chief Master Sgt. Charles Frizzell, 35th Fighter Wing command chief, shakes Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld’s, 14th Fighter Squadron commander, hand at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. Heusinkveld returned from exercise COPE NORTH 17, which originated here in 1978 and serves as a keystone event promoting stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills critical to maintaining regional stability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Charles Frizzell, 35th Fighter Wing command chief, shakes Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld, 14th Fighter Squadron commander's, hand at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, 2017. Heusinkveld returned from exercise COPE NORTH 17, which originated here in 1978 and serves as a keystone event promoting stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills critical to maintaining regional stability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from the 35th Fighter Wing returned to Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 4, after a month long exercise.

The wing sent approximately 130 Airmen and 14 F-16 Fighting Falcons to exercise COPE NORTH 17 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, improving aerial and ground-based combat readiness and developing interoperability between the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

"We strengthened our ties with our partner nations two fold,” said Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld, 14th Fighter Squadron commander. “By living and working next to our partner nations, Japan and Australia for almost a month, we got to know the people, not just the weapon systems. We made friendships that are incredibly long lasting and important to our future.”

Being in Guam gave pilots and maintainers the opportunity to forge friendships but also hone skills by integrating tactically with their Pacific partners.

“We become a stronger fighting force by integrating our strengths in the air battle,” Heusinkveld continued. “By mission planning, executing, and debriefing with the partners we learned each other's system capabilities and strengths.

The exercise included 22 total flying units and more than 1,700 personnel from the three countries, focusing on growing interoperable relationships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“It was my first time at CN17 and had a great experience,” said Sergeant Jeff McLaughlin, Royal Australian Air Force Tactical Fighter Systems Program Office maintenance liaison coordination. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the U.S. Air Force and JASDF personnel in the maintenance workforce to coordinate and effectively support the aircraft.”

Each piece of CN17 was designed to integrate all nations in wartime and peacetime scenarios.

“We flew dissimilar air combat training missions with our partner nations and U.S. forces in the beginning of the exercise to learn similarities and differences in how our partner nations operate,” said Capt. Aaron Koveleskie, a 14th FS fighter pilot.

The exercise featured a full spectrum of fighter, bomber, airlift, tanker, rescue and command and control aircraft, allowing Airmen to experience high tempo mission operations in a controlled environment.

“The biggest benefit is the ability to mix up the playing field a bit,” said Airman 1st Class Jamie Smith, a 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 dedicated crew chief. “Instead of always integrating with the same people every day, you're taking different aircraft, with different capabilities and tasking them all to accomplish the same mission. In a real world scenario, being able to work together at a moment’s notice is pivotal to achieving success.”

Now in its 87th iteration, the long-standing multilateral training exercise helped to improve combat readiness and multinational interoperability among participating militaries.

“The 35th Fighter Wing’s dedication and support to enhance our combat readiness is second to none,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, 35th FW commander. “Through this exercise we developed our comradery amongst ourselves and our partner nations, continuing our fight tonight mindset across the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”