Canadian Forces CF-18's return to Eielson Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Cpl J.A. Wilson
  • Canadian Public Affairs
For the first time in a number of years, Canadian Forces CF-18s are participating in Exercise COOPERATIVE COPE THUNDER. 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), from 4 Wing Cold Lake, is flying friendly force or "Blue Air" missions focusing on air-to-air interdiction and close air support. In past years 410 Tactical Training Fighter Squadron (TTFS), also from 4 Wing, has flown as enemy force or "Red Air".

The Canadian Forces (CF) contingent consists of 89 service personnel including members from 409 TFS, 1 Air Maintenance Squadron, one exercise observer and four members from 8 Air Communications and Control Squadron, (8 ACCS) from 8 Wing Trenton.

Exercise Cooperative Cope Thunder 06-3 (CCT), running from 20 Jul - 5 Aug 2006, is an annual exercise run out of Eielson and Elmendorf Air Force Bases, Alaska. It provides joint/combined offensive counter air, interdiction, airdrop, close air support, and large force employment training under a simulated combat environment. Other participating nations this year include Japan, Sweden, Mongolia, South Korea, Germany, the Slovak Republic, Australia and NATO.

The 409 TFS Detachment Commander Major Nick Griswold, is looking forward to the challenges of CCT. "It's looking like it's going to be good. We haven't done this (exercise) in so long. We're going to get to work with countries that we've never worked with before," he said. "The Swedish with their new Gripen and Japan... it's going to be interesting. These are countries that have never been to Maple Flag. It's looking like there will be a lot of new learning experiences," said Griswold.

Maj Griswold, with 2700 total flying hours, 1500 in the CF-18, is participating in this exercise for the first time. In the past, he has participated with American Forces at Red Flag in Nevada, and NATO Training missions in Europe.

Master Corporal (MCpl) Daniel Gould, an aviation technician working in the Maintenance Operations Centre (MOC), for CCT has noticed the differences and similarities in how our allies do things. "We pretty much do things the same way. The biggest differences noted are that the acronyms used and the assigning of fighter flight schedules are different," he said. U.S. Air Force personnel assign the fighter to be used according to the tail numbers daily whereas CF personnel make that decision as the situation requires, sometimes changing on the fly.

"The goals are the same" says MCpl Gould and those goals are to promote joint and combined interoperability between allied nations.