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  Cope Tiger 2013
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Text:

Chakrit Samithinan

Pictures:

Chakrit Samithinan

   

Cope Tiger is a yearly military cooperation exercise between the Air Forces of USA, Singapore and Thailand. It usually takes place each March at the bases of the Royal Thai Air Force in Korat , Lopburi (Chandy) and Udon. In 2013, this exercise consisted of about 2000 military personnel in support of 80 aircrafts and 36 ground-based Air Defense systems. At the same time, the rural population in the areas where the exercises were held received medical- and dental treatments by doctors from the three participating countries.

   

Flight of four McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Badge of the Cope Tiger (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5T Tigris RTAF 211 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39C Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

McDonnell Douglas F-15C USAF 44 FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15C USAF 44 FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15C USAF 44 FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15C USAF 44 FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

McDonnell Douglas F-15C USAF 44 FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15C USAF 44 FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15SG RSAF 149 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15SG RSAF 149 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

McDonnell Douglas F-15SG RSAF 149 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15SG RSAF 149 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15SG RSAF 149 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas F-15SG RSAF 149 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

This year, a group of journalists were invited to observe on two consecutive days the activities of this exercise. The invitation, which also included the author of this report, surprisingly came from the American Embassy in Bangkok who also provided transportation and lodging for the group in Udon. This event took place on 14th and 15th March 2013. On the first day, the group was brought by minivans of the US Embassy to Korat where the majority of the military participants were stationed.

The following aircrafts were staitioned at the Royal Thai Air Force Base in Korat:

United States Air Force
8   McDonnell Douglas F-15C from Kadena AFB, Japan (44th Fighter Sqn.)

Republic of Singapur Air Force
6   McDonnell Douglas F-15SG from Paya Lebar Air Base (149 Sqn.)
8   General Dynamics F-16C from Tengah Air Base 140 & 143 Sqn.)
6   Northrop F-5S Tiger from Paya Lebar Air Base (144 Sqn.)
1   Gulfstream G-550 Special Electronic Missions from Tengah Air Base (111 Sqn.)
1   Lockheed C-130H Hercules from Paya Lebar Air Base (122 Sqn.)
1   Boeing-Vertol CH-47D Chinook from Sembawang Air Base (127 Sqn.)

Royal Thai Air Force
8   Northrop F-5T Tigris from RTAFB Ubon (211 Sqn.)
8   General Dynamics F-16A&B RTAF from RTAFB Korat (102 & 103 Sqn) and RTAFB Takli (403 Sqn)
8   Aero L-39ZA Albatros from RTAFB Takli (401 Sqn.)
3   Saab JAS-39C & D Gripen from RTAFB Surat Thani (701 Sqn.)

 

 
 

General Dynamics F-16B RTAF 403 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

General Dynamics F-16A RTAF 102 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

General Dynamics F-16A RTAF 103 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

General Dynamics F-16A RTAF 103 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

 
   

General Dynamics F-16D RSAF 140 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

General Dynamics F-16D RSAF 140 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

General Dynamics F-16C RSAF 143 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

General Dynamics F-16C RSAF 143 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

Aero L-39 Albatros RTAF 401 Sqn (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Aero L-39 Albatros RTAF 401 Sqn (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

This  401 Sqn. Albatros has still the Badge of dre 211 Sqn on its tail. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Aero L-39 Albatros RTAF 401 Sqn (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   
 

Northrop F-5T Tigris RTAF 211 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5T Tigris RTAF 211 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5T Tigris RTAF 211 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5F Tigris RTAF 211 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

 
   

Northrop F-5F Tiger RSAF 144 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5F Tiger RSAF 144 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5S Tiger RSAF 144 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Northrop F-5S Tiger RSAF 144 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

All of these aircrafts took off in the morning of 13th March. The Group was placed in the vicinity of the take-off very close to the runway, but the rotation point was further down the runway so that only pictures with fully extended landing gears were possible. For the return of the aircrafts, the same spot was chosen by the RTAF people which enabled the group to take photos of the aircrafts in the process of landing. The weather was sunny but early on, there was a morning mist thus not ideal conditions for photography. But observing 60 aircrafts taking off and landing a few hours later was very impressive and noisy, especially during take-offs with afterburners. Just before midday, the group left the Korat airbase for Udon but upon arrival there, it was too late to catch any of the activities which took place on that day.

 

   

Lockheed C-130H Hercules RSAF 122 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Lockheed C-130H Hercules RSAF 122 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Lockheed C-130H Hercules RTAS 601 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Lockheed C-130H Hercules RTAS 601 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

Saab JAS-39C Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39D Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39C Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39C Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

Saab JAS-39C Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39D Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39C Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Saab JAS-39D Grippen RTAF 701 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

Airbus A-319 RTAF 602 Sqn. (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Boeing-Vertol CH-47D Chinook RSAF 127 Sqn.  (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Boeing-Vertol CH-47D Chinook RSAF 127 Sqn.  (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Gulfstream G-550 RSAF 111 Sqn. Formation Gripen - F-5TH Tigris (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Early the next morning, the group was brought to Udon Royal Thai Air Force base where the following aircrafts were parked:

United States Air Force
1   McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III von Elmendorf AFB, AK. (517th Airlift Sqn.)
1   McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III von Hickam AFB, HI (535th Airlift Sqn.)
6   Republic A-10A Tunderbolt II von Osan AFB Korea (25th Fighter Sqn.)

     

Transport to the flightline (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

A-10 Flightline (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

A-10 Flightline (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Surprisingly, the journalist group was invited for a ride in the C-17 from Elmendorf to witness a heavy cargo extraction. The flight lasted nearly 3 hours because the crew was first making some dry-runs before extracting the first of the two heavy loads through the rear exit ramp. As soon as the load was off the aircraft, the second C-17 from Hickam airbase in Hawaii made its appearance by following the first C-17. Unfortunately, it was too far away and its position was too high to be able to make some interesting pictures.  After about 20 more minutes, the preparation for the extraction of the second load began. However, after the chute was deployed, the chute line which is supposed to drag the load out of the aircraft broke due to heavy winds and the load remained inside the aircraft to the disappointment of the group. Taking photos from inside the C-17 was quite difficult because the members of the group had to sit along the wall locked down by a seat belt and were not allowed to move throughout the flight.

 

 

McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

 

Insigna of the USAF & ANG(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Flight Crew (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Globemaster Cockpit (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Cargobay (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

 

The Cargo (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

The Airdrop (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

The Airdrop (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

The Airdrop (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

 

The Airdrop (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

The Airdrop (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Until next year (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III von Hickam AFB, HI (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

In the early afternoon, the group was led to the pre-flight preparations of the six A-10 Thunderbolt aircrafts from Osan. This was a very special experience because there were no restrictions and the group was able to observe the tasks of the ground crew from close proximity. This also meant that the various weapons attached to the A-10s could be photographed without any problems. An exciting and rare opportunity indeed.

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Republic A-10A Tunderbolt II 25th FS (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

30 mm Gatling Gun (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Data pod (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Things under the wings (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

FLIR pod (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Maverick Missile (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

Preflight walk (Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

   

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

       

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

(Picture courtesy Chakrit Samithinan) 

The return to Bangkok took place later in the afternoon but turned out to be very time-consuming due to several traffic jams which meant that the group reached Bangkok only late at night.

A very special thank you needs to be passed on the staff of the American Embassy in Bangkok who accompanied the group to Korat and Udon and looked after all participants in an superb manner. In this context, the people from the Royal Thai Air Force bases in Korat and Udon should also not be forgotten as they chaperoned the group throughout their stay in a very friendly way.

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last update 30. January 2021

Written 27. January 2021

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