Main formation consisting of (L to R USAF F15, Rafale, Tejas, Jaguar and SU30mki)
  • Media Day on last day

New Delhi. 25 April 2023. The sixth edition of Cope India-2023, an Air Exercise between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and United States Air Force (USAF), conducted over the last two weeks at Air Force Stations Kalaikunda, Panagarh and Agra, culminated on 24 Apr 2023. The exercise involved participation of frontline IAF aircraft like Rafale, Tejas, Su-30MKI, Jaguar, C-17 and C-130.

The USAF in turn had fielded the F-15 ‘Strike Eagle’ fighter, C-130, MC-130J, C-17 and the B1B, strategic bomber aircraft. Aircrew from the Japanese Air Self Defence Force also participated as observers. This joint exercise provided valuable opportunity for the participants of all countries to exchange ideas and imbibe best practices through interactions, exchanges & combined missions.

Cope India Exercise are a series of international Air Force exercises between the Indian Air Force and the United States Air Force conducted on and over Indian soil. The first such exercise, which required many months of preparation, was conducted at the air force station in Gwalior from February 16 through February 27, 2004, with the US Air Force withdrawing troops and aircraft on February 27. The exercise included flight tests, practice and demonstrations as well as lectures on subjects related to aviation. There were also media functions and social interactions among troops of the two countries. After the event was over, the Indian Air Force indicated that ” the mutual respect and bonhomie that developed between members of the two sides have cemented a firm foundation for moving ahead towards higher bilateralism.” The United States Air Force pilots too found it a “positive experience” that led to the re-evaluation of some assumptions about US air tactics.The exercise was repeated in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2018 and 2023.The exercises allow US pilots to go up against Russian Su-30 and French Mirages.

564 personnel from the IAF and the USAF took part in the exercise during which most days recorded maximum day temperatures of above 40 degrees Celsius at Kalaikunda and at Arjan Singh Air Force station in Panagarh, said IAF’s Exercise Director Group Captain Neeraj Jhamb, while speaking to the media present at the finale. He added that the last two weeks witnessed intense flying operations by fighters, transport aircrafts and  multiple missions were flown together to enhance within visual range and beyond visual range combat employment in large force package.
The event commenced with the take offs Tejas, Jaguar, Su30mki, Rafale and USAF F15. After Takeoff the aircraft joined together in a V formation flying overhead. Then the media was moved to the static area where the pilots and crew briefed them. Apart from this there were exchange sorties where the USAF pilots flew in IAF Aircraft and  IAF pilots in F15s.

Courtesy : USAF

According to IAF Group Captain Neeraj Jhamb, a total of 24 fighter aircrafts, eight transport planes and two force multipliers from both air forces participated in the event that started on April 10.The B-1B bombers taking part in Cope India 23 are from the USAF’s 28th Bomb Wing, located at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, USA. It is one of the two US bases responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Lancer. The B-1B allows the USAF to deliver large quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to return for this year’s exercise and continue strengthening these key relationships,” said Col. Biren Oberoi, Cope India 2023 U.S. Exercise Director. “Cope India provides a unique opportunity to promote compatibility among our forces and build on our collective strengths to increase our capabilities.”

Courtesy : PIB on Twitter

Cultural exchanges were also organised during the exercise to reinforce the bond of friendship and camaraderie. This exercise reaffirms the deep rooted commitment to maintain and strengthen the relationship between the two Air Forces boosting the inter-nation cooperation between the two largest democracies.Air Officer Commanding, Kalaikunda Air Force Station, Air Commodore Ran Singh said the joint air exercise has provided an opportunity for both countries to learn from each other and improve military capabilities.

Pictures : Saurav Chordia