Allied forces converge on Guam for Cope North exercises amid tension over downed Chinese spy balloon


-Approximately 1,000 U.S airmen, marines and sailors will train alongside 1,000 combined Japan Air Self-Defence Force, Royal Australian Air Force and French Air and Space Force service members in Cope North 2023, which will take place in the region from 08 to 24 February.

Allied forces are preparing for this year’s massive military drills in the Pacific island region amid tension over a Chinese spy balloon, which was shot down Saturday by a U.S Air Force fighter after it spent the last week floating across the U.S.

“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III said in a written statement.

For the Cope North 2023, the Pacific Air Forces said about 100 aircraft from the United States, Australia, Japan and France will fly 1,200 sorties across seven islands and 10 airfields.

PAF announced that B-1B Lancers assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota landed at Andersen Air Force Base on 01 February.

“his Bomber Task Force mission demonstrates the bomber’s ability to rapidly deploy anywhere, anytime and provide lethal precision global strike options for combatant commanders,” reads an article on PAF website.

Operations will take place at Andersen Air Force Base, Won Pat International Airport, and Northwest Field, Guam; the Northern Mariana Islands including Rota, Tinian and Saipan; Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia; Iwo To, Japan; and Palau.

The Guam international airport has been designated a support location for 23 exercises, according to John M. Quinata, executive manager of the Guam airport.

“Guam International Airport runways and taxiways are a vital piece of infrastructure supporting not only commercial aviation, but a critical alternate or divert location for Andersen airfield,” Quinata said. “The A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority, Guam is proud to support regional military exercises as a support location.”

The Pacific Air Forces earlier announced that air forces from Australia, Japan, and the United States began arriving in Guam in the last week of January to establish the command and control multinational task force for Cope North 2023 or CN23.

CN23 is a multilateral U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored field training exercise focused on trilateral airborne integration for large-force employment, agile combat employment, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.

CN23 objectives aim to further integrate the contributions of allies and partners to enhance security and stability to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

According to a press release from PAF, specific tactics, techniques and procedures planned during the exercise include accomplishing precise and challenging trilateral planning, execution, and debrief training in large force exercises; stress, validating, and improving U.S and trilateral ACE capabilities in dispersed locations; enabling combat air forces and ACE training requirements via seamless coalition airlift and logistics operations; and demonstrate safe and effective conduct of combined and synergistic HA/DR operations.

The exercise concludes with a HA/DR event that reinforces the militaries’ combined ability to support any type of disaster in the Indo-Pacific region.

Established in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Cope North moved to Andersen AFB in 1999. It is U.S. Pacific Air Forces’ largest multilateral exercise.