Kolkata: The Indian Air Force and the US Air Force will participate in a bilateral exercise – ‘COPE INDIA 2019’ – scheduled to be held between December 3 and 14 of this year in West Bengal.
The bilateral flying training programme will be held at two important airbases in West Bengal – Air Force Station Kalaikunda and Air Force Station Arjan Singh at Panagarh.
While Air Force Station Kalaikunda is an important training air base for the IAF, Air Force Station Arjan Singh at Panagarh has the second squadron of the C130J Super Hercules aircraft. The first squadron of the C130J Super Hercules is based at Hindon.
COPE INDIA began in 2004 as a fighter training exercise held at Air Force Station Gwalior. The exercise included flight tests, practice and demonstrations as well as lectures on subjects related to aviation. 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. The exercise was last held in 2010.
“Exercise CI19 is a long-standing bilateral US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)-sponsored Field Training Exercise (FTX), conducted with the IAF, focused on enhancing US-Indian mutual cooperation and building on existing capabilities, aircrew tactics and force employment. The exercise will showcase US and India’s efforts and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said a press release issued by the US Consulate in Kolkata.
Around 200 US airmen with 15 aircraft from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base in Japan and 182 Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard will participate in CI19 alongside their IAF counterparts.
“We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to fly and train with our Indian Air Force counterparts within their home country,” said Col. Darryl Insley, 13 Air Expeditionary Group-COPE India 2019 (AEG-CI19) Commander.
Col. Insley further added, “Through participation in COPE India, I’m confident that all airmen involved will both increase their skills and build meaningful bonds through bilateral engagements and exchanges.”