The air force units of the US and India are going to participate in Exercise COPE INDIA 2019 (CI19), a bilateral flying training programme, next month at two crucial airbases in West Bengal: Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Midnapore and Air Force Station Arjan Singh at Panagarh in Burdwan.
The exercise will be held from December 3 to 14.
Significantly AFS Arjan Singh is the second hub of C-130J Super Hercules aircrafts of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
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 US Consulate General Kolkata said in a statement on Thursday.
“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.
He said, “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.”
Around 200 US Airmen with 15 aircrafts from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base in Japan and 182d Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard will participate in CI19 alongside their IAF counterparts.
COPE INDIA began in 2004 as a fighter training exercise held at Air Force 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. The exercise was last held in 2010.
The exercise showcases US and India’s efforts and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, according to the US consulate statement.