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    Operation Cope Thaw



    Story by Airman Kailee Reynolds 

    47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

    Airmen from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas integrated with units from the 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Jan. 31 to simulate a short-notice deployment in an exercised dubbed “Operation Cope Thaw”.

    This event is aimed at off-station mission exposure for pilots and maintainers from Laughlin’s 47th Flying Training Wing. Eighteen of the base’s T-38 Talons were joined by a C-17 from Altus AFB before the group set out for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (KIWA), Arizona on Feb. 2.

    Operation Cope Thaw is a unique opportunity for pilots to gain knowledge and experience beyond the scope of their daily undergraduate pilot training mission. Graduating from UPT is just the first step in a pilot's journey through their time in the Air Force but the learning does not stop there. Working with fellow Airmen in diverse environments critical to success.

    “Our mission is to produce the highest quality warfighting aviator that we can, and we are really trying to develop those skills and adaptability out at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Philip Boje, 87th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot and Operation Cope Thaw deputy mission commander. “I think that supporting the UPT mission in a different environment is a great way to achieve that goal.”

    During their time in Arizona, the instructor pilots and students will integrate UPT learning objectives including developing Airmanship, learning to adapt to changes, while overcoming challenges within a specific mission.

    “This is a great opportunity for everyone involved and it's great to see everyone’s work that they have put in to have this operation come together,” said Boje. “It proves that we can go out and operate elsewhere (to train) safely and effectively if we have bad weather or aren’t able to complete our mission for whatever reason back home.”

    Logistical coordination began several days before departure when Airmen from Altus Air Force Base (AFB) arrived at Laughlin AFB Jan. 24-25, working alongside Airmen from Laughlin AFB to train and prepare for the mission ahead. This preparation involved a brief as well as equipment loading/palletizing training to familiarize all personnel involved were made aware of all specific procedures.

    “The whole goal of these briefings/training was really safety,” said Boje. “We want to have a set game plan so that we have mission success and make sure that all personnel gets back on the ground safely while also accomplishing the objectives that were tasked with each individual sortie.”

    An Altus AFB’s C-17 Globemaster touched down at Laughlin AFB’s airfield on Feb. 1, 2022, to be loaded with aircraft maintenance equipment, including “start carts,” auxiliary power units, and spare aircraft parts. Airmen from Laughlin’s 47th Medical Group, 47th Operation Support Squadron’s Aircrew Flight Equipment and Squadron Aviation Resource Management, and personnel from the 47th Maintenance Directorate, also traveled via C-17 to KIWA to provide operational support. 18 T-38 Talons, flown by Laughlin pilots, departed from Laughlin, along with Altus’s C-17 and personnel, and headed to KIWA on Feb. 2, 2022.

    “No one has ever really done this before, so everyone involved is figuring out a way to make it a more successful operation in the future,” said Boje. “That way we can set an example and pave the way for other bases that might want to do something like this later on.”

    The T-38’s are scheduled to arrive back at Laughlin on Feb. 18, 2022, once the mission is completed.



    Date Taken: 02.01.2022
    Date Posted: 02.10.2022 15:13
    Story ID: 414330
    Location: LAUGHLIN AFB, TX, US

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