The air forces of the United States and India are participating in a 12-day joint exercise called ‘Cope India 2018’ at two air force stations in West Bengal. Cope India 2018 is the fourth edition in the series of bilateral joint exercises held between the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force, which is conducted in India.
For the first time, the exercise is being planned at two air force bases, Kalaikunda and Panagarh from December 3-14. The Cope India exercise is being held after a gap of eight years, with the last one having taken place in 2010.
The USAF is participating with 12 XF15C/D fighter plane and 3 XC-130 planes. The IAF is participating with the Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000, C-130J & AWACS aircraft.
The exercise showcases efforts and commitment of the two nations to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a communique from the US Consulate said. “Exercise CI18 is a long-standing bilateral US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)-sponsored Field Training Exercise (FTX), conducted with the Indian Air Force (IAF), focused on enhancing US-Indian mutual cooperation and building on existing capabilities, aircrew tactics and force employment,” the communique said.
Approximately 200 US airmen with 15 aircraft from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan and 182nd Airlift Wing, will be taking part in the exercise alongside their IAF counterparts.
The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and undertake a mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing operational capability. First held in 2004, the exercise has evolved to incorporate subject matter expert exchanges, air mobility training, airdrop training and large-force exercises, in addition to fighter-training exercises.