Navy P-8 serves as ‘eyes in the sky’ for Cobra Gold

By Lt. Carlos GomezMarch 2, 2024

RAYONG PROVINCE, Thailand (March 1, 2024) What exactly does an aircraft bring to an amphibious exercise (AMPHIBEX)?

For starters, it helps to have a bird’s eye view. Especially when directing multiple military assets, like ships, amphibious vehicles, and aircraft.

“Bringing a common operating picture to this exercise is huge,” said Lt. Kelly Baze, a naval flight officer with the “Fighting Tigers” of Navy Patrol Squadron (VP) 8.

Baze and a crew of nine Navy Sailors fly aboard a Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft as part of the Cobra Gold 2024 exercise in the Kingdom of Thailand. Their mission is to give the entire AMPHIBEX an extended view of the battlespace.

The P-8 brings a variety of detection capabilities to the exercise, Baze explained.

Furthermore, the aircraft can communicate with and relay battlespace information to other assets in the area, making it a crucial part of military operations and exercises.

The Poseidon is equipped with an array of sophisticated sensors, radar, and cameras, making it the Navy’s ideal aircraft for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

During the Cobra Gold AMPHIBEX, the VP-8 crew gathered and relayed key data to the various multinational assets on water and land to coordinate the large-scale beach landing.

“Everyone is relying on us to relay what we’re seeing in real-time,” Baze said. “The Poseidon can provide so much to the battlespace picture.”

From 11,000 ft. in the air, the P-8 helps give exercise commanders and participants a complete perspective of what’s happening on the surface. The P-8 crew can even direct other aircraft in the battlespace to where they need to be, Baze said.

As part of the AMPHIBEX, naval ships and an amphibious combat unit seized an opposing force’s beachhead. After reaching the beachhead, the amphibious combat unit breached the opposing force’s territory and secured the beach.

Thai, U.S., and Korean forces participated in the Cobra Gold AMPHIBEX. The exercise aimed to build the capacity of participating military forces during allied joint operations to bolster the Royal Thai Armed Forces’ confidence in all domain operations.

Cobra Gold is a Thai and U.S. co-sponsored exercise conducted annually in the Kingdom of Thailand. This year’s Cobra Gold is conducted from Feb. 27 to Mar. 8, 2024. Full participants include Thailand, the United States, Japan, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. Limited participants include Australia, India, and China.