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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2024

Marine Aircraft Group 12 concludes Cope North 24

By Cpl. Samantha Rodriguez, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, completed Cope North 24, a three-week-long multinational aviation training exercise, alongside joint, partner, and allied forces in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands from Feb 2 to 23, 2024.

During the exercise, which involved forces from Australia, Japan, France, South Korea, and Canada, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232 accumulated over 280 flight hours and 140 sorties across multiple islands in the Marianas. The unit also practiced the U.S. Air Forces’ Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept as a coalition force as well as the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) unilaterally.

"There will always be challenges working with coalition militaries and different standard operating procedures that each military has. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to come out here, work together, exercise together, and draw from the differences and similarities to achieve our common goals," said Flight Lieutenant Thomas Rogers, an officer with 383rd Contingency Response, Royal Australian Air Force.

The Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) concept aims to perform aviation operations in austere environments through low signature generating methods. During the exercise, a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 transported a small package of Marines and refueling equipment from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan to Guam, located over 1,600 miles away, to provide immediate refueling capabilities to F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.

“The concept of EABO allows us to accomplish our mission in providing fueling support for any aircraft, in this iteration an F/A-18, in any location. So, wherever an aircraft can land and drop off our equipment and personnel, we can then set up and conduct refueling operations,” said 2nd Lt. William Peterson, a logistics officer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171.

Approximately 2400 service members and 85 aircraft participated in Cope North 24 and expended over 30,000 pounds of ordnance. Initially established in 1978 as a bilateral exercise based out of Misawa Air Base, Japan, Cope North moved to Andersen Air Force Base in 1999. In 2012, it became a trilateral exercise with the addition of the Royal Australian Air Force and is currently U.S. Pacific Air Forces' largest multilateral exercise series.

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