he 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. Cope India 2019 began on Nov. 3, 2018, at Air Station Kalaikunda and Air Station Arjan Singh, both of which are in India’s eastern West Bengal state.
Approximately 200 Americans and an unspecified number of Indian personnel taking part in the exercise. U.S. Air Force personnel from the 18th Wing in Japan has brought F-15C/D Eagle fighter jets for the drill, while the Illinois National Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing will contribute C-130 Hercules cargo planes. Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI Flanker-H and Mirage 2000 fighter jets, Jaguar combat jets, A-50EI airborne early warning and control aircraft, and C-130Js will be flying, as well.
The Cope India exercise is being held after a gap of eight years, with the last one having taken place in 2010. “Exercise CI19 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 and building on existing capabilities, aircrew tactics and force employment. Cope India began in 2004 as a fighter training exercise held at Air Station Gwalior. The exercise has evolved to incorporate subject matter expert exchanges, air mobility training, air drop training and large-force exercises, in addition to fighter-training exercises.
Having a chance to train to operate together those aircraft, as well as the others that the IAF will be flying during Cope India, is also important if the United State and India hope to be able to deploy and fly together in response to any sort of contingency. This applies equally to the C-130 crews, who could easily find themselves working side-by-side in response to violent crises or humanitarian disasters in the Pacific region or even further afield. India’s Su-30s feature 3D thrust vectoring, making them a particularly unique challenge for F-15C/D pilots when fighting within-visual-range under certain circumstances.