Annual multilateral military exercise COPE North 2020 has started at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) in the US territory of Guam.

Participants include the US Military, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku Jieitai) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The trilateral field training exercise started on 12 February and is set to run until 28 February.

More than 2,000 military personnel and over 100 aircraft are taking part in this year’s exercise, which will exhibit the combat readiness and interoperability.

The 17-day event will see humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercises, along with strike mission training taking place in the first week.

This will be followed by air combat tactics and large-force employment training in the following week.

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The HADR operations and a large-force employment exercise will help promote stability and security throughout the Indo- Pacific territory.

COPE North exercise director USAF colonel Scott Rowe said: “This exercise is a model opportunity for our countries to participate in world-class training and expand engagements to strengthen our interoperability.

“It validates new ways to deploy and manoeuvre people and assets, which ultimately enhances our capacity and capability to foster a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The exercise will allow for skills and best practices integration to coordinate, between combined air tactics, techniques and procedures.

The Japan Maritime Defense Force’s US-2 ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft will be used for the first time to incorporate personnel recovery missions.

Originally a quarterly exercise, COPE North is an airforce exercise started between the US and Japan in 1999. The RAAF joined the pair in 2011.

RAAF group captain Mark Larter said: “Training programmes such as exercise COPE North provides invaluable opportunities to test operational air and ground crews to the highest level.

“For the first time, US Pacific Air Forces has invited the RAAF to lead the HADR mission to demonstrate combat readiness, humanitarian assistance procedures and interoperability between the forces of the US, Australia and Japan.”

COPE North 2019 (CN19) was held at Andersen AFB from 18 February to 8 March.