26 Maret 2012
Fighter jets, namely the (from left) US Air Force's F-15 Eagle, RSAF's F-15SG and RTAF's JAS-39 Gripen, flying in formation during Exercise Cope Tiger. (photos : Mindef, RTAF)
For the past two weeks, there was much rumbling in the skies over Korat, Thailand, as Singapore, Thailand and the United States conducted a trilateral air exercise codenamed Cope Tiger.
Involving about 100 aircraft, 34 ground-based air defence systems and more than 2,000 personnel from the participating nations, this year's exercise also saw the maiden participation of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF's) F-15SG fighter aircraft.
The exercise began last year with a command post exercise held at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore from 19 to 23 Dec, followed by a flying training exercise in Korat Air Base from 12 to 23 Mar.
It concluded on 23 Mar at Korat Air Base with the closing ceremony officiated by Singapore's Chief of Air Force, Major-General Ng Chee Meng; Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), Air Chief Marshal Itthaporn Subhawong; and Commander of the United States 13th Air Force, Lieutenant-General Stanley Kresge.
On how the exercise has evolved over the years, RSAF Exercise Director Colonel (COL) Tommy Tan, who also heads the RSAF's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Command, said: "Exercise Cope Tiger has progressed steadily, both in scope and complexity. The assets involved are increasingly advanced, and this has helped to add realism to training, enhancing the training benefits for the participating forces."
RTAF Exercise Director Group Captain Thawonwat Chantanakom added that the annual exercise creates a good opportunity for the three air forces to work together and enhance interoperability, and to forge stronger bonds.
He said: "Exercise Cope Tiger is important because it helps to build friendship and defence relations between the three nations. It also serves as a great platform for exchanges and sharing so that our forces will be able to assist one another should the need arise."
On the sidelines of the exercise, the participants also took part in a three-day joint socio-civic programme, where they provided basic health and dental services to the local community in the vicinity of Korat Air Base and Chandy Range.
Since 1994, Exercise Cope Tiger has been conducted annually to enhance professionalism and interoperability among the participating forces, and foster closer rapport and mutual understanding among their personnel. This year's exercise is the 18th in its series.