Indonesia, US air force personnel kick off 10-day Cope West joint training exercise in North Sulawesi

Service members of US Marine Corps and Indonesian Air Force attend the opening ceremony of the 2016 Cope West exercise at Sam Ratulangi Air Force Base in Manado, Indonesia. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - US Marine Corps and Indonesian Air Force personnel have kicked off a 10-day joint training exercise involving the two militaries, dubbed Cope West, in Manado, North Sulawesi.

Running to November 11, the Cope West exercise is the first time in 19 years of bilateral cooperation that fighter-to-fighter exercises between the US and Indonesian air forces have been held.

"US-Indonesia defence cooperation has never been stronger or more comprehensive than it is today, and we are proud to be Indonesia's top defence partner in joint exercises and other engagements," said US Charge d'Affaires Brian McFeeters at the ceremony.

He later highlighted the strength of the strategic partnership between the US and Indonesia.

"The US is a strong friend and enthusiastic partner with Indonesia in many areas, including in strengthening Indonesia's aviation and defence. We look forward to a continuation of our robust and growing relationship."

Cope West is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral, tactical fighter-to-fighter exercises involving the US and Indonesian air forces. The exercise is designed to advance interoperability between the US and TNI AU, to allow for the exchange of techniques related to combined air operations specific to US and Indonesian aircraft, and to promote cooperation and unity of purpose, the US Embassy said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 1).

Six US Marine Corps F-18s and six TNI-AU F-16s are participating in the joint exercises.

"Indonesia is a strong regional partner and we use these exercises to not only improve technical skills, but also to strengthen friendship, mutual understanding and mutual respect between the two Armed Forces," said Lt Col Stephen McClune, representing the US military.

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