Ex-Cope India,18 | US-India Relations to tighten – USAF-F-15s arrived for 12 day joint Air Combat Drill in West-Bengal

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Sayan Chatterjee

NEW DELHI : The U.S. and Indian Air Forces have kicked off a crucial bilateral air warfare exercise – Cope India, 2018 on December 3rd, 2018. The USAF ended the highly consequential drills nearly 10 years ago, but has brought them back amid growing concerns about China and other threats.

This is the first iteration of this drill in nearly a decade and comes as the two nations are working to expand defense and security cooperation in the face of regional security challenges and threats, especially with regards to China.

As a first, to the Ex-Cope India-18 the fourth edition in the series of the Bilateral Joint exercise has been planned at two Air Force bases, Kalaikunda and Panagarh in West-Bengal, India between 03-14th of Dec 18. USAF is participating with 12 X F15 C/D and 03 X C-130. IAF is participating with its might; Su-30 MKI, Jaguar , Mirage 2000 , C-130J & AWACS aircraft.

The USAF fighter aircraft F-15 arrived at IAF base Kalaikunda, West-Bengal on Saturday. It has been ascertained, that the exercise will host more than 40 aircrafts including F-15 & C-130H aircraft of USAF, and, going to be the home for the USAF big birds for next few days.

Whilst, commenting on the Ex-Cope India, IAF Spokesperson, Wng Cdr. Anupam Banerjee, stated “International exercises like this not only increases the bonhomie between the two forces but also widens the horizon of the participating individuals as well”

The IAF contingent is comprised of Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000, Jaguars, IL-78, C-130J, AWACS & AEW&C aircrafts. “The exercise will provide operational exposure and undertake mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing operational capability”, he later added.

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Wednesday visited Air Force Station in Kalaikunda to interact with participating forces of the ongoing Ex Cope India 2018 between U.S Air Force (USAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF). The Air Chief Marshal was received by Air Marshal R Nambiar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Air Command and Air Cmde Saji Antony Air Officer Commanding Air Force Station Kalaikunda.

During his visit, the Chief of the Air Staff was briefed in detail about various phases of the exercise and was apprised of its progress. Post the briefing, the Air Chief Marshal visited the USAF and IAF detachment, wherein he interacted with the personnel of both the Air Forces. He was satisfied with the progress of the exercise and complimented all participants on their professional approach and conduct during the exercise, as per an official statement.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa emphasised on the importance of joint exercises as they create an environment of camaraderie and an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices in enhancing operational synergy.

Ex Cope India 2018 is a testimony of the growing Indo-US military relationship. In the past, the Indian Air Force has participated in International exercises with USAF including the Ex-Red Flag. Recently for the first time, the IAF had participated in Ex Pitch Black at Darwin, Australia in which 130 aircraft from 16 countries took part.