Air forces of India and the US are currently undergoing a 12-day military exercise at Kalaikunda and Panagarh air bases in West Bengal from December 3 with an aim to enhance operational coordination, as reported before.

Ex Cope India 2018, with its fourth edition in the series of the bilateral joint exercises, has been planned at two Air Force bases — Kalaikunda and Panagarh in West Bengal — from 3-14 December. USAF has brought twelve F15 C/D planes and three C-130 aircraft, while IAF is participating with its Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000, C-130J, and AWACS aircraft.

Ex Cope India 2018: Glimpses of operations from AFS Panagarh - A testimony to growing India-US military relationship
(Image Courtesy: Indian Air Force)

 

“The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and undertake mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing operational capability,” the IAF said in a statement earlier.

US President Donald Trump, in his first prime-time televised address to the nation as commander-in-chief last year, had laid out his South Asia policy saying a “critical part” of it was to further develop the USA’s strategic partnership with India. In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

Ex Cope India 2018: Glimpses of operations from AFS Panagarh - A testimony to growing India-US military relationship
(Image Courtesy: Indian Air Force)

 

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa visited the Air Force Station in Kalaikunda on December 5 to interact with the participating forces. He was received by Air Marshal R Nambiar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Air Command, and Air Commodore Saji Antony, Air Officer Commanding Air Force Station Kalaikunda.

During his visit, the Chief of the Air Staff was briefed in detail about various phases of the exercise and apprised of its progress. Post the briefing, he visited the USAF and IAF detachments, where he interacted with the personnel of both forces. He was satisfied with the progress of the exercise and complimented all participants on their professional approach and conduct during the exercise, according to an official statement.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa emphasised on the importance of joint exercises as they create an environment of camaraderie and an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices in enhancing operational synergy.

Ex Cope India 2018: Glimpses of operations from AFS Panagarh - A testimony to growing India-US military relationship
(Image Courtesy: Indian Air Force)

 

Joint planning & operations are the key focus areas of both the participating forces. Commenting on Ex Cope India-18, IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee had earlier said, “International exercises like this not only increase the bonhomie between the two forces but also widen the horizon of the participating individuals as well. The exercise will provide operational exposure and undertake mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing operational capability.”

(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)