Thursday, January 26, 2023

Japan, Australia and the United States executes an incredible “Elephant Walk”

U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and partners conducted an impressive “Elephant Walk” during Cope North 2022 to show off its ability to rapidly generate combat airpower.

On Sunday, the Pacific Air Forces press release said that no fewer than 18 U.S., Australian, Japanese and regional allies and partners aircraft participated in a close formation taxi, known as an Elephant Walk at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 5, 2022.

An ‘Elephant Walk’ is a fundamental training element when preparing for global strike missions.


“Elephant walk” is a uniquely Air Force term that grew out of World War II and became institutional memory in the new Air Force. The Army Air Forces had the luxury of large amounts of bombers by 1944, and would regularly generate attacks in excess of 1,000 aircraft from its Numbered Air Forces. Observers commented that the nose-to-tail, single-file taxi movements of the heavily-laden bombers paralleled the nose-to-tail trail of lumbering elephants on their way to the next watering hole. The term stuck and was even used to define maximum sortie surge operations in Air Force regulations.

Photo by Aubree Owens

Established in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Cope North moved to Andersen AFB in 1999. It is the U.S. Pacific Air Forces’ largest multilateral exercise.

Cope North allows U.S. and allied forces to exercise humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts and interoperability to prepare for and recover from the devastating effects of natural disasters.

More than 2,500 U.S. Airmen, Marines, and Sailors will train alongside 1,000 combined JASDF and RAAF counterparts in Cope North 22.

Photo by Aubree Owens

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About this Author

Daisuke Sato
Daisuke Sato is defense reporter, covering the Asia-Pacific defense industrial base, defense markets and all related issues.