Cope Thunder 23-1 comes to a close

  • Published
  • By Senior Airmen Sebastian Romawac
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen and Philippine Air Force personnel conducted bilateral fighter training operations at Clark Air Base, Philippines and subject matter expert exchanges at Basa Air Base, Philippines in support of exercise Cope Thunder 23-1, May 1-12, 2023.

Approximately 160 USAF Airmen flew, supported and maintained more than 12 aircraft from the 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan during their operations at Clark Air Base, Philippines.

During these flying operations, Allied forces had 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.

“We’re integrating with the PAF every day, both on the ground and in the air, and it has been an outstanding opportunity for both our forces to learn from each other,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Dubel, 14th Fighter Squadron commander. “The PAF pilots are very much like us, they think like us, they’re fighter pilots to the core and they’ve been awesome to fly with.”

The 14th Fighter Squadron flew F-16 Fighting Falcons while their PAF counterparts flew FA-50PHs and AS-211s for a total of 96 sorties and 127 flying hours during CT 23-1.

Alongside flying operations, SMEEs were conducted by the 736th Security Forces Squadron Airmen and their PAF counterparts at Basa Air Base, Philippines. They trained weapons handling, close quarters battle operations, combatives, unmounted vehicle operations and simulated attack scenarios.

“I’m grateful for the U.S. Air Force members who have shared their expertise, especially with security and defense operations,” said 2nd Lt. Nick Dinglasa, PAF security forces team lead. “I look forward to applying these methods with the rest of our team and strengthening the defense of this region with our Allies.”

This exercise between allied forces hit closer to home for one individual as U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Ramos, 736th SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of command support staff, returned to his hometown for CT 23-1.

Ramos was born not too far from Basa Air Base and this was his first time returning to the Philippines since enlisting into the U.S. Air Force in 2016.

“The opportunity to come back to the Philippines and work alongside the forces of my home country is such an honor,” said Ramos. “Working with the PAF and being able to build that bond between our forces has humbled me and I look forward to more training with our forces in the future.”

A closing ceremony for CT 23-1 was held at Clark Air Base, Philippines May 12, 2023. At the ceremony, closing remarks were shared, appreciation was given by both the USAF and PAF personnel involved, gifts and patches were traded and Allies celebrated the enhancement of interoperability between these like-minded forces, proving the commitment of the United States and the Philippines to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.