By Priam Nepomuceno

JET DRILLS. Some of the participating F-16 aircraft of the US Air Force in this year’s Cope Thunder exercise at the Basa Air Base, Floridablanca, Pampanga on Monday (April 8, 2024). The Philippine Air Force said the drills will focus on subject matter expert exchanges and field exercises in air and ground operations, as well as logistics and other mission support planning and execution. (Photo courtesy of the PAF)

MANILA – Jet fighter units from the Philippines and the United States on Monday started the first iteration of the Cope Thunder-Philippines (CT PH 24-1) for this year at the Basa Air Base, Floridablanca, Pampanga.

“This bilateral military exercise, taking place in the Northern Luzon Intensive Military Training Area, Basa Air Base, and Brigadier General Benito N. Ebuen Air Base until April 19, involves approximately 700 airmen from various PAF (Philippine Air Force) Units and USAF (United States Air Force),” Air Force spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said in a statement.

PAF FA-50PH fighter jets, and the USAF F-16s and C-130J aircraft will be utilized in this exercise, she added.

Castillo said CT PH 24-1 will focus on subject matter expert exchanges and field exercises in air and ground operations, as well as logistics and other mission support planning and execution.

The exercise is part of the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board activities for this year.

This year’s Cope Thunder-PH is tentatively scheduled to have a second iteration in June.

Meanwhile, Air Defense Command chief Maj. Gen. Fabian Pedregosa said the exercise highlights “the unwavering commitment of the PAF and its international allies to enhancing interoperability, strengthening deterrence and defense capabilities, promoting regional security and stability, and bolstering diplomatic ties.” (PNA)