Exercise Cope India – 2023: Indian and US air forces to start joint drill from April 10 at Kalaikunda airbase

Team India Sentinels Tuesday 4th of April 2023 10:17 PM

A pair of IAF’s Su-30MKIs and Mirage flying alongside two USAF’s F-15s during Cope India 2004. (Photo: USAF)

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force and the United States Air Force will begin their bilateral combat air exercise “Cope India” from April 10 at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal. The joint air drill aims to further enhance the interoperability between two air forces.

The exercise, which is taking place after a gap of four years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, would witness participation of India’s frontline fighter jets, like Rafale, Sukhoi-30MKI, etc. Apart from fighters, the IAF will also deploy its airborne early-warning aircraft, transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster and IL-78 mid-air refuelers for the exercise.

The USAF will field its F-15 Strike Eagle fighter aircraft. Interestingly, in this edition of Cope India, Japan will participate as an “observer”.

Started in 2004, Exercise Cope India has evolved to incorporate subject matter expert exchanges, air mobility training, airdrop training and large-force exercises.

This exercise comes at a time when India and China are engaged in a high-intensity military stand-off at the line of actual control in Ladakh in the northern sector and in a state of high alert at the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector. It is also taking place at a time when Russia and China are getting closer in the wake of the Moscow-Kyiv war and ties between Washington DC and Beijing are at an all-time low over Taiwan and other issues.

It may be noted that already, the IAF has taken part in four overseas exercises with friendly foreign countries this year. They were Exercise Desert Flag in the United Arab Emirates, Exercise Cobra Warrior in the United Kingdom, Exercise Veer Guardian in Japan, and Exercise Shinyuu Maitri again in Japan.

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