Thailand and the US have begun the Cobra Gold annual multinational military exercise, claimed to be the largest military exercise in the Indo-Pacific region.
Hosted in Thailand, Cobra Gold 19 is the 38th iteration of the exercise, which will have 29 countries taking part, including Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.
This year’s exercise is jointly sponsored by the US Armed Forces and Royal Thai Armed Forces. It is scheduled to run until 22 February.
The US deployed the 35th Fighter Squadron and the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron to participate in the exercise. The deployment of the 35th FS to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, comes after its stint at the Korat AB in the early 1960s.
During the exercise, the 35th FS will perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations to enhance interoperability and improve critical skills.
The exercise is aimed at strengthening regional security and demonstrating a quick response to regional crises.
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The aim of bringing together forces from multiple countries is to accomplish shared goals and security commitments in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to the US Air Force, Cobra Gold boosts the military relationship between the Royal Thai Armed Forces and other nations.
Focus areas of the current iteration include a humanitarian civic assistance event, field training and a command post exercise.
35th Fighter Squadron pilot 1st lieutenant Mason McDaniel said: “It was really like a homecoming for the 35th (Fighter Squadron). The Royal Thai Air Force was really welcoming and I’m excited to train alongside them during this year’s exercise.”
Cobra Gold aims to improve the capabilities of participating countries to carry out combined and joint operations.
The exercise seeks to enhance interoperability in carrying out missions such as maritime security and responding to large-scale natural disasters.