Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Nearly 100 aircraft and 3,000 personnel from the United States, Japan and Australia are participating in a joint exercise from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
Cope North 2019, which started Monday and is scheduled to run through March 8, involves the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force, according to a U.S. Pacific Forces news release. It is the forces' largest multilateral exercise.
"The exercise's focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief provides critical training to U.S. and allied forces that has a direct impact on the militaries' ability to support the region, including Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia," the U.S. Navy said in the release.
Cope North started as a quarterly bilateral exercise in 1978 at Misawa Air Base in Japan. The annual exercise has been conducted from Andersen Air Force Base since 1999.
This year's event will involve more than 2,000 U.S. airmen, Marines and sailors, along with approximately 850 service members from Japan and Australia. Nearly 100 U.S., Japanese and Australian aircraft from 21 flying units will participate in CN19.
Australia's contingent includes 12 F/A-18A Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, two C-27J Spartans, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, a Combat Support Element and an Aeromedical Evacuation Team, according to the Australian Department of Defense.
The nations' units first participate in a week-long humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training event. It then will then lead a large-force employment, which is designed to increase readiness among the allied nations.
The exercise will "conclude with air combat and large force employment training, to refine our procedures and operate more effectively alongside our military partners in the region," Australia's Group Capt. Nicholas Hogan, who is the commander for the exercise, said in a statement.