02/26/2017: According to an article published February 19, 2017 by The Guam Daily Post, Cope North 2017 has begun.

U.S. Marines, sailors and airmen are training alongside Japanese and Australian allies as part of the annual Cope North 2017 at Andersen Air Force Base on Feb. 15.

Approximately 1,700 service members from the three countries will spend the next two and a half weeks building international partnerships and increasing interoperability on the ground and in the air, according to the U.S. Air Force.

“This is an opportunity for us to fly and fight together – to get better at our craft,” said Col. Scott Hurrelbrink, 36th Wing vice commander, which is based at Andersen. “Cope North enables us to work together, to train with different tactics, and to learn how other nations fight wars.”

This year’s Cope North is the second-largest iteration of the now-annual exercise, according to the U.S. Pacific command. Participants include the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, and Royal Australian Air Force.

“I’m excited to develop my communication skills in English,” said Japanese F-2 pilot Capt. Tatsuya Takahashi, from Tsuiki Air Base, in the Air Force Press release. “The language we use in flight with Japanese controllers is English, but it’s a Japanese-English. Here we have to use proper English which is very challenging, but rewarding.”

Along with breaking down language barriers, Cope North provides valuable training opportunities.

“We’re also able to gain experience working with the other countries, increasing our overall interoperability,” Takahashi said.

This year, the Royal Australian Air Force is bringing its largest force to ever participate in a Cope North. Its participants include a combat support element and an aeromedical evacuation team.

“Cope North gives us the opportunity to validate the effectiveness of our training in a complex and demanding air combat scenario,” said Australian Air Force group Capt. Tim Alsop in the U.S. Air Force press release. (Post News Staff)

Video by Tech. Sgt. Bryan Magee:Defense Media Activity – Guam:02.24.2017

In the slideshow below, the USAF’s B2 is seen engaged in the exercise.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron approaches the boom pod of a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 909th Aerial Refueling Squadron to receive fuel during Cope North 2017, Feb. 22, 2017.

The exercise includes 22 total flying units and more than 2,700 personnel from three countries and continues the growth of strong, interoperable relationships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region through integration of airborne and land-based command and control assets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith James)