US, Thailand plan Cobra Gold 2018
Thailand and the US will launch the next Cobra Gold drill, the biggest annual multilateral military exercise in the Asia-Pacific, on Feb 13-23 next year, with 29 participating countries and more than 12,000 military personnel, according to the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTAF) headquarters.
Cobra Gold 2018 will be held at the army's Surathampitak and Suranaree military camps and the air force's Wing 1 in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Air and marine exercises will take place at the navy's air division and U-tapao airport in the eastern province of Rayong, the Sattahip naval base in Chon Buri and the navy's training ground in Chanthaburi.
The seven countries participating in full in the exercises will be the US, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.
Ten countries will join the drill as observers -- Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Germany, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Sweden.
The 10 nations which are part of the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team -- Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Fiji and New Zealand -- will also take part.
Two other countries -- China and India, will also join.
Thailand will send 5,600 personnel while 5,800 will come from the US, 200 from South Korea, 146 from Japan, 68 from Indonesia, 50 from Singapore, and 44 each from China and India.
Supreme Commander Gen Thanchaiyan Srisuwan will preside over a ceremony to launch Cobra Gold 2018 on Feb 13, at the Royal Thai Navy SEAL headquarters in Chon Buri's Sattahip district.
The field exercises will include amphibious landing drills, and the Non-combatant Evacuation Operation on Feb 17, 2018 at Hat Yao in Sattahip and the navy's air division in Rayong.
The humanitarian civic action and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief drills will be held on Feb 22 in Chachoengsao and the Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise will be organised in Chanthaburi on Feb 23.
Thailand will send five Gripen JAS39 jets, 15 F-16s, four L39 jets, four Alpha Jets, one C-130 military transport aircraft and one EC725 helicopter. Meanwhile, the US will send six F-16CM jets, 10 F-18D jets, two C-130J and two C-130H.
The US amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard will also join the exercise that will take place in the upper Gulf of Thailand.