U.S., Japan practice bombing
By Eric Palacios
Pacific Daily News
Cope North bilateral exercises between the U.S. Air Force and the Japan
Air Self Defense Force have begun at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo.
This year’s military exercise is historic two ways:
It’s the first time that the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s F-2 jet
fighters are participating in an exercise outside of Japan, and
It also is the first time Japan’s jets have dropped live bombs anywhere.
The bombs were dropped on the Northern Mariana Island of Farallon De
Medinilla, which is about 180 miles north of Guam. The U.S. Air Force
usually conducts live-fire training on the island.
“We have a nice range there that’s very suitable for this purpose,” a U.S.
Air Force lieutenant colonel said, during the pre-exercise briefing.
“This is our chance to get together, work together, fly together and brief
together as better coalition partners.”
Cope North is a regularly scheduled joint/bilateral exercise held by the
United States and Japan.
The purpose of the exercise is to provide a venue for bilateral
cooperation and to improve capabilities for the defense of Japan.
About 380 U.S. Air Force participants and 12 F-16s, and 240 Japan Air Self
Defense Force participants and two E-2Cs and eight F-2s, are taking part
in the exercise.
“It was great,” Japan Capt. Ryoji Kondo, said, adding that it was his
first time to fly outside of Japan and drop live bombs.
When the dust settles, the lieutenant colonel said, a total of 346 sorties
would have been conducted, “which is pretty robust for two weeks.”