MANADO, Indonesia -- U.S. Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 began exercise Cope West 17 at Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Indonesia, on Nov. 1, 2016.
This fighter-focused, bilateral exercise between the U.S. Marine Corps and Indonesian Air Force is designed to enhance the readiness of combined interoperability between the two nations.
Cope West 17 is the first exercise held in Indonesia in 19 years involving U.S. Marines and the Indonesian Air Force.
“It has been a long time since Marines have operated in this area,” said Master Sgt. Richard Ley, maintenance chief with VMFA(AW) 225. “We are working together with the Indonesian Air Force to build relationships between our aircrew, maintainers and other supporting elements.”
Ley said expeditionary fire rescue, bulk fuel and aircrew Marines are working side by side with their Indonesian counterparts and their chains of command in order to get the best training possible for the two nations.
The squadron plans to complete their unit air-to-air training requirements, which focuses on basic fighter maneuvering, section engaged maneuvering, offensive anti-air warfare and active air defense versus the Indonesian Air Force to increase situational readiness, interoperability, knowledge and partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia.
“We will be conducting air-to-air training involving mainly within visual range tactics,” said Capt. Robert Lundgren, a pilot with VMFA(AW) 225. “We are starting with within visual range training, which is close combat. Later we will be moving into basic fighter maneuvers and spreading the aircraft further apart before combining all the training into one event at the end of the exercise.”
Both the U.S. F/A-18D Hornets and Indonesian F-16 Fighting Falcons bring unique capabilities affording the associated countries the opportunity to learn and understand each other’s skills, preparing them for real world situations and further strengthening their relationship.
“This exercise provides the U.S. and Indonesia an opportunity to share tactics and build interoperability together,” said Lundgren. “Having the fighter aircraft integration in this part of the world is awesome, and it is something we haven’t done before.”