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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — F-15 pilots from Kadena Air Base are taking part in a three-week exercise with their Malaysian counterparts.

According to 18th Wing Public Affairs, eight F-15s and some 114 people from Kadena, including munitions handlers, pilots and maintenance personnel, are participating in Cope Taufan ’06, an air-to-air training exercise designed to sharpen air combat tactics and promote closer relations between allies.

Taufan means “big storm” in Malay. The exercise, which began March 10, is held biannually. The Royal Malaysian Air Force will be flying MiG-29, Hawk 208, and F/A-18D aircraft.

“This exercise is a chance for Team Kadena, regardless of rank or specialty, to work with our counterparts from the Royal Malaysian Air Force to sharpen air combat capabilities and operational proficiencies,” said Lt. Col. Jeff “Lenny” Gustafson, 67th Fighter Squadron commander, was quoted in an 18th Wing news release as stating. “This global engagement is fostering mutually beneficial relations with Malaysia, which facilitates peace and stability in the Pacific region.”

The MiG-29 usually is employed by countries unfriendly to the United States, the release stated.

“The chance to fly against a real MiG in simulated combat is the test of any fighter pilot,” Navy Lt. Abe Bush, an F-15 pilot, was quoted in the news release as stating. “We train day in and day out to counter such threats as the MiG, though at Kadena we can only try to simulate it with another F-15. There is no substitution for seeing the real thing.”

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