Home : Media : News : News Article View

From the Tundra to the Tropics, F-35As Make Their Debut in Cope North 21

By Senior Airman Jonathan Valdes | Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs | Feb. 19, 2021

GUAM, UNITED STATES -- In April 2020, the Pacific Air Forces celebrated the arrival of its first F-35A Lightning II to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Now, in February 2021, PACAF is celebrating another milestone with the aircraft’s debut in Cope North 2021.

The F-35As are joining flying units from the Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force, or Koku-Jieitai.

“The F-35A is here to incorporate 5th Generation Fighters into the capabilities and tactics of our joint and combined force,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James Christensen, the 356th Fighter Squadron commander assigned to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. “We are here to integrate and learn how to fight as a team.”

This is the first time the aircraft has flown outside of Alaska, providing a unique training opportunity. The F-35A will play a key role in Agile Combat Employment (ACE). ACE allows military aircraft to quickly land and refuel in an austere environment with minimal infrastructure and manpower all while engines are running.

Focused on both defensive counter-air and offensive counter-air missions, the F-35A brings numerous capabilities to the world stage.

“We protect and enhance the lethality of the entire air package with the world’s most advanced sensors, weapons and avionics suite available on any fighter—with increased sortie range, enemy detection capability and low observable lethality,” Christensen said.

Having arrived at its homebase less than a year ago, Christensen also noted the importance of showing how safely and rapidly they can bring the F-35A online in PACAF and demonstrate the ability to deploy and project air power from multiple locations around the Pacific.

With its game-changing technology and ability to provide air power at a moment’s notice, the F-35A operations demonstrate their undeniable presence and important role in the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

“We can rapidly deploy and seamlessly integrate with sister services and partner nations to bring peerless military options to our commanders,” said Christensen.

After flying more than 4,700 miles, from the tundra to the tropics, from minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, bringing the F-35As to Cope North was no easy feat.

“A site survey team was deployed to Andersen AFB to identify supportability factors that would shape how we would operate on a daily basis,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jade Son Villena, an F-35A specialist section chief assigned to the 356th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, at Eielson AFB, Alaska. “One factor is that the F-35A has unique modern requirements and part of the effort is exploring the capabilities of Andersen AFB to be able to support F-35A operational needs.”

For Senior Airman Benjamin Lubert, a 356th AMU F-35A avionics journeyman assigned to Eielson AFB, Alaska, the time spent in Cope North has helped him see the bigger picture outside of the daily maintenance.

“So far, my experience with Cope North 21 has been a positive one,” said Lubert. “I’ve been able to work with the other services and other nations and experience their interoperability. This exercise proves the readiness of the Air Force and the F-35A program to perform with other services, airframes, and to participate in the mutual defense of ally nations.”

Despite the drastic temperature difference, long hours, heavy rain and strong winds, every second in Cope North has been invaluable.

“Seeing a wide range of aircraft from the U.S. and partner nations first hand has been very exciting to say the least,” Lubert said. “It has strengthened my sense of pride in the work that my unit and I do. Hearing the F-35A roar over Andersen AFB certainly makes me stand a little bit taller.”
|
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
278,707
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
U.S., Japan Coast Guard Strengthen Capabilities Through Joint Exercise
Ships from the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard conducted exercises near the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Feb. 21, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, two of the respective services’ newest and most capable vessels, operated alongside response boats to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters.
Feb. 24, 2021 - JAPAN -- The U.S. Coast Guard concluded a joint law-enforcement exercise Sunday with the Japan Coast Guard in the Philippine Sea, furthering inoperability in performing law-enforcement missions.This weekend, ships from the...

Spartan Paratroopers Harness Biometric Technology
Paratroopers from 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, “Spartan Brigade,” conducted an offensive operation to capture a high value target during exercise Arctic Warrior 21, Feb. 11, 2021, at Donnelly Training Area, Alaska. The Spartan Brigade is the only airborne infantry brigade combat team in the Arctic and Pacific theaters, providing the combatant commander with the unique capability to project an expeditionary force by air.
Feb. 24, 2021 - JOINT BASE ELEMDORF-RICHARDSON – Paratroopers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, “Spartan Brigade,” began a six month-long study on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, using...

An Unseen Adversary: USS Ronald Reagan’s Unprecedented Fight Against COVID-19
Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Jason Zeger, assigned to the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY). Medical personnel and strategic forces were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Ronald Reagan returned to Yokosuka in November 2020 following a six-month deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
Feb. 24, 2021 - YOKOSUKA, Japan -- “I-L-I reported in compartment three tack, one eight zero tack, zero tack, quebec. Away the COVID response team away. All hands not involved stand clear.”Announcing an “ILI,” or influenza-like illness,...

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Phone Call with Thailand Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Prayut Chan-o-cha
Feb. 24, 2021 - WASHINGTON -- Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby provided the following readout:Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Thailand Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Prayut Chan-o-cha on the phone today to...

Yudh Abhyas Concludes with Strengthened Indo-US Partnership
Soldiers of the Indian and U.S. armies mark the conclusion of Exercise Yudh Abhyas, Feb. 21, 2021 in India. Now in its 16th year, Yudh Abhyas builds on the enduring Indian-U.S. partnership through 14 days of combined field training, cultural exchange and a brigade-level command post exercise, leading to greater interoperability between the two nations, in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Feb. 23, 2021 - RAJASTHAN, India -- Soldiers of the U.S. and Indian armies concluded the 16th iteration of bilateral exercise Yudh Abhyas during a closing ceremony Feb. 21 at Mahajan Field Firing Range in India.The two-week, U.S. Army...