The armed forces of Singapore, Thailand and the US have commenced an annual trilateral air defence drill, code-named Exercise Cope Tiger 2016, at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand.
Representing the 22nd in the series, the two-week exercise will witness participation from more than 1,200 combined service members and civilians from the three militaries.
The exercise will involve a combined total of 87 aircraft and 48 air defence assets from the USAF, Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), and the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Additionally, 12 F-15 Eagles and one E-3B Sentry (AWACS) assigned to 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan will participate in the exercise.
The exercise has been designed to include multiple types of training including mission planning, airborne air control, in-flight air refuelling, and air-to-air employment including basic fighter manoeuvres, electronic warfare, airlift, and close air support.
USAF exercise director lieutenant colonel Jack Arthaud said: "Cope Tiger 16 is a great experience for our Airmen, building upon the exercise's 22 year history, to deepen relationships with two key Indo-Asia-Pacific partner nations and to reinforce our combined airpower interoperability.
"The flying exercise not only builds USAF capabilities, but also RTAF and Republic of Singapore Air Force capabilities by reinforcing common training standards and team work."
This year's exercise will involve a trilateral Link 16 network that will provide increased capability for the RTAF.
Arthaud added: "USAF Link 16 experts worked closely with both (Royal Thai Air Force) and (Republic of Singapore Air Force) technical experts to ensure that we would have success (with Link 16 data link network) on the first day of the exercise. This is a huge leap in technical capabilities that enhances our effectiveness and partnership."
Launched in 1994, Exercise Cope Tiger intends to boost professionalism and joint interoperability between the US forces, allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to fostering a closer rapport and mutual understanding among their personnel.
Image: A Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15 Eagle lands during exercise Cope Tiger 16 on Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Photo: US Air Force / Tech Sgt. Aaron Oelrich.