The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed two aircraft and approximately 170 personnel to Guam to enhance trilateral interoperability with the US and Japan as part of Exercise Cope North 21.
Exercise Cope North is a long-standing combined military exercise that aims to improve combat readiness, develop humanitarian assistance procedures, and build common understanding between the US, Australia and Japan.
Group Captain Nathan Christie, Australian Commander for Exercise Cope North 21, said the exercise had proven to be an effective way to strengthen the trilateral military partnership, and increase the complexity of combined activities.
GPCAPT Christie said, "More than 2,000 military personnel and approximately 95 aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force, United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force are scheduled to participate in this exercise.
"Australian personnel are drawn from across Air Force with elements of Surveillance and Response Group, Air Mobility Group, and Combat Support Group participating. An E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, and a Contingency Response Squadron have also deployed to the exercise."
The Exercise Cope North 21 scenario will develop coalition procedures in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and air power missions, including air superiority, close air support, interdiction, electronic warfare, tactical air mobility, and airborne command and control.
The health and safety of all ADF personnel on exercise is paramount. There are a range of measures in place that ensure the risk of contracting COVID-19 are minimised. A COVID-19 response plan has been agreed to by all nations participating in Exercise Cope North.
Mitigation measures include all RAAF personnel returning a negative COVID-19 test result before deploying on the exercise, restricted movements and only necessary interactions with other participants. Other COVIDSafe behaviours, such as regular temperature checks, mask wearing and physical distancing, will also be implemented.
GPCAPT Christie said, "The first week will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises and strike mission training, while the second week will focus on air combat tactics and large force employment training."
To ensure the safety of the Australian community, all ADF personnel returning from overseas are required to complete mandatory state or territory quarantine, in line with other returning Australians. Their release from quarantine is contingent on the testing requirements of the jurisdictions they isolate in.
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The exercise will be held at Andersen Air Force Base from 3 to 19 February 2021. This is the 11th time Australia participates in Exercise Cope North.