The US has had a military presence in Southeast Asia for decades, and in the past 20 years that presence has remained largely unchanged. But in stark contrast to exercises in the past, Exercise Cobra Gold 2020 is the first year that U.S. fifth-generation aircraft have been an active part of the exercise. The Marine Corps’ F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft is included in this year's round of Cobra Gold, conducting fighter integration with the Royal Thai Air Force.
Though strengthening relationships with the host nation and preparing for large-scale natural disasters are the core roles of the exercise, strategic messaging to China may be the most important factor to consider.
Defined by at least 100 active-duty military personnel permanently stationed in host countries.
The fighter technologies developed during the first part of the 21st century.
The F-22 Raptor was the first 5th Generation aircraft to reach service.