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Cope North: Mission accomplished

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 67th Fighter Squadron receives an inflight refuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 6, 2017, en route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Both Squadrons returned to Kadena after spending three weeks training with Australian and Japanese partners for exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. During the exercise, the 909th ARS flew 23 sorties and offloaded more than 1.1 million pounds of fuel to 180 receivers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 67th Fighter Squadron receives an inflight refuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 6, 2017, en route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Both Squadrons returned to Kadena after spending three weeks training with Australian and Japanese partners for exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. During the exercise, the 909th ARS flew 23 sorties and offloaded more than 1.1 million pounds of fuel to 180 receivers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 67th Fighter Squadron receives an inflight refuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 6, 2017, in route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Both Squadrons returned to Kadena after spending three weeks training with Australian and Japanese partners for exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The 909th ARS's motto is 'Always There,' symbolizing the squadron's constant presence and devotion to support allies and partners throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 67th Fighter Squadron receives an inflight refuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 6, 2017, in route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Both Squadrons returned to Kadena after spending three weeks training with Australian and Japanese partners for exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The 909th ARS's motto is 'Always There,' symbolizing the squadron's constant presence and devotion to support allies and partners throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Palmisano, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator and superintendent, conducts an inflight refuel March 6, 2017, en route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Boom operators on a KC-135 have the ability to pump thousands of pounds of fuel to any capable aircraft, thousands of feet above the ground, flying at 230 miles per hour, while only 47 feet from the receiving aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Palmisano, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator and superintendent, conducts an inflight refuel March 6, 2017, en route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Boom operators on a KC-135 have the ability to pump thousands of pounds of fuel to any capable aircraft, thousands of feet above the ground, flying at 230 miles per hour, while only 47 feet from the receiving aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles from the 67th Fighter Squadron fly next to a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 6, 2017, en route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Both Squadrons returned to Kadena AB after spending three weeks training with Australian and Japanese partners for exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Cope North is an annual exercise which serves as a keystone event to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles from the 67th Fighter Squadron fly next to a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 6, 2017, en route to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Both Squadrons returned to Kadena AB after spending three weeks training with Australian and Japanese partners for exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Cope North is an annual exercise which serves as a keystone event to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen and aircraft from Kadena's 67th Fighter Squadron, 909th Air Refueling Squadron, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron, and 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron returned to Kadena after participating in the 88th iteration of Exercise Cope North. The exercise was held at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Exercise Cope North Guam aims to cultivate regional ties and seeks to enhance the U.S. Air Force's interoperability with allied forces in the
Pacific. The bilateral exercise is designed to enhance joint operational capability alongside 22 flying units from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Royal Australian Air Force, and the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

With more than 2,700 personnel and 100 aircraft, Cope North challenged partner forces to integrate their local capabilities with other friendly
units.

"Large exercises are the best opportunity for us to train to our primary mission," said Lt. Col. Michael Adams, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron
exercise commander. "Our home station training provides the building blocks we need to conduct major combat operations, but it's only at exercises like
Cope North that we get to bring it all together and fight through the chaos and complexity we would face in battle."

Daily combat scenarios were held to develop fighting tactics and war-fighting integration. Fighter airframes, such as the F-15 Eagles from
the 67th FS teamed up with allied aircraft to simulate fights against F-16 Fighting Falcons from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and Eielson Air Force Base,
Alaska.

Command and control and tanker assets also played a vital role in each leg of the training. KC-135 Stratotankers from the 909th ARS provided aerial
refueling to both friendlies and 'opponents' alike, nearly doubling the in-air training time.

The 909th ARS flew 23 sorties and offloaded more than 1.1 million lbs. of fuel to 180 receivers during the training, ensuring that Airmen remain ready
to support U.S. partners in a wartime scenario.

"This was a great opportunity for us to learn, especially for the younger Airmen who have never deployed before," said Capt. Joseph Schmerber, 909th
ARS pilot and exercise planner. "I've deployed six times and can definitely say this is what it's like when we fly out there. We all gained a tremendous
amount of knowledge to take back to the home unit and I'm confident that also applies to everyone who participated in Cope North."

This year's iteration of Cope North also included aeromedical evacuation training among Airmen from each nation to enhance their ability to work
together when providing humanitarian aid for natural disasters.

The 18th AES practiced life-saving skills by transporting and caring for simulated patients on each other's aircraft. The medical training was
designed to make aeromedical evacuation operations more flexible and proficient while working with counterparts and their foreign platforms.

"It was a great exercise," said Capt. Warren Carter, 18th AES flight evaluator from Kadena Air Base, Japan. "Not only did we have the capability
to do our interoperability training, but we also built some good friendships and partnerships. This is just the start of greater things to happen; not
only in the exercise but actually in real-world missions."

While each unit has their own specialized mission set, participating Airmen from all backgrounds were involved in building friendships and partnerships
to form a stronger alliance and promote peace and stability throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific.