America's fighter aircraft F-15 arrived at AFS Kalaikunda on Saturday as part of the US contingent to take part in an India-US joint exercise 'Cope India 2019' in West Bengal. The 12-day exercise will commence on December 3 and continue till December 14 at Air Station Kalaikunda and Air Station Arjan Singh (Panagarh) in West Bengal.
The exercise will host more than 40 aircraft including F-15 and C-130H aircraft of USAF. The fighter aircraft would operate from AFS Kalaikunda (KKD) and the transport aircraft from AFS Panagarh.
The contingent of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will comprise of Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000, Jaguars, IL-78, C-130J, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft. Indian Air Force welcomed US Air Force personnel as the contingents started landed in India during the week.
The US consulate said that the exercise showcases efforts and commitment of the two nations to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
"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 building on existing capabilities, aircrew tactics and force employment," a communique from US consulate said.
"We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to fly and train with our Indian Air Force counterparts within their home country," Col Darryl Insley, 13 Air Expeditionary Group-COPE India 2019 (AEG-CI19) commander, said.
Approximately 200 US Airmen with 15 aircraft from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan and 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard will take part in the exercise alongside their IAF counterparts.
"Through participation in COPE India, I am confident that all airmen involved will both increase their skills and build meaningful bonds through bilateral engagements and exchanges," Insley said.
The Cope India exercise is being held after a gap of eight years, with the last one having taken place in 2010. 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.