BAF BASE BANGABANDHU, Bangladesh – U.S. Air Force and Bangladesh air force personnel took to the sky Jan. 24 for the launch of Exercise COPE SOUTH 15, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral tactical airlift exercise at BAF Base Bangabandhu, Bangladesh.
Eighty U.S. Airmen along with three U.S. Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan, integrated with approximately 200 Bangladesh Air Force Airmen and one Bangladeshi C-130B during the exercise, which is scheduled through Jan. 30.
“COPE SOUTH provides valuable training for U.S. and Bangladeshi Airmen in air-land and airdrop delivery,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Campbell, 36th Airlift Squadron commander. “Our work here is vital in contingency and disaster-response operations. We build the personal relationships that, at a tactical level, enable us to help when disaster strikes and people are in need, not just in Bangladesh, but across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
Campbell said COPE SOUTH, and his squadron’s activity with Indo-Asia-Pacific partners throughout the year, builds bonds that enable the region’s forces to rapidly respond and operate shoulder-to-shoulder during any crisis.
The first day’s operations built on previous COPE South exercises. U.S. Air Force crews safely airdropped Bangladeshi commandos using their host nation’s airdrop procedures.
“My crews arrived in Bangladesh only 18 hours ago, and today, we airdropped supplies and personnel using our host’s procedures,” Campbell noted. “That’s an uncommon capability made possible by our regular and enduring engagement that builds trust between my crews and our joint Bangladeshi partners. It’s a capability unique to PACOM’s assigned forces.”
BAF Group Captain Awal Hossain said exercises such as COPE SOUTH are particularly important to BAF response capabilities.
“Bangladesh is a flood-prone country, and we have been enhancing our capability, so we can drop men and materials in a disaster zone quickly and easily to support locals,” Hossain said.
In addition to cooperative flight operations, during the exercise U.S. and BAF Airmen will conduct several subject matter expert exchanges focused on aircraft generation and recovery, day and night low-level navigation, airdrop and air-land tactics, aircraft maintenance procedures and rigging techniques.
“Already, it’s clear this year’s exercise is further advancing our mutual understanding of each other’s capabilities and enhancing our ability to operate together,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Staubach, COPE SOUTH 15 mission commander.