KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR BASE, Thailand -- Units from the United States, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Republic of Singapore Air Forces participated in the 26th iteration of Exercise Cope Tiger from March 14-25 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Base, Thailand.
Approximately 160 U.S. service members participated along with approximately 500 service members from Thailand and Singapore. The trilateral exercise involve a combined total of 68 aircraft from the three participating countries.
Cope Tiger is an annual aerial exercise aimed to improve readiness and the ability of the U.S., Royal Thai and Republic of Singapore Air Forces to operate together, while enhancing the three nations’ military relations and combined capabilities.
“Cope Tiger is an excellent opportunity for U.S. forces to train with our long-standing partners and strengthen relationships with our counterparts in the INDOPACOM Theater,” said Lt. Col Christopher High, U.S. Air Force Detachment commander. “This exercising allows the military-to-military relationship and interoperability between all three countries to flourish while training in a realistic combat scenario.”
During this exercise, service members were provided the opportunity to train in the large airspace over Thailand and train air defense artillery units. U.S. and Thai forces also gain valuable training at Cope Tiger.
“For the RTAF, hosting Cope Tiger provides an opportunity to enhance our air forces readiness and showcase unique capabilities that are an integral component of the U.S., Thailand and Singapore relationships,” said Flt. Lt. Kittinut Chittharaphong, Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “Having different jets, and cultures and diversity are all contributing factors to our improvement.”
Strengthening partnerships is the command’s number one priority, aligned with the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s aim of building an extended network capable of deterring or decisively acting to meet shared challenges.
“In an area as strategically important and diverse as Southeast Asia, multilateral training that enhances tactical skills and is in line with our national security objectives is a high priority for strengthening our personal relationships with these countries is the foundation for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” High said. “Large-force exercises like Cope Tiger are a particularly effective way to reinforce our unique strengths and hone the collective skills that prepare all three air forces for the security threats of the future.”
The U.S. has participated in the Cope Tiger exercise series since 1994, but this was the first executed since it was last achieved in 2019.