Cope India 2023, the joint air exercise involving Indian and US air forces, culminated on Monday with a dazzling display of aerial manoeuvres by fighter jets of both the participating countries at West Bengal's Kalaikunda.
Gleaming aerial manoeuvres by top-of-the-line fighter jets - Rafale, Tejas, SU-30MKI, Jaguar and F-15E - under a partly overcast sky on a much cooler Monday captivated the crowd.
All about the joint air exercise
According to IAF Group Captain Neeraj Jhamb, a total of 24 fighter aircrafts, eight transport planes and two force multipliers from both air forces participated in the event that started on April 10.
Altogether, 564 personnel from the IAF and the USAF took part in the exercise during which most days recorded maximum day temperatures of above 40 degrees Celsius at Kalaikunda and at Arjan Singh Air Force station in Panagarh, he said.
The aerial assets employed in the exercise by the IAF were fighters Rafale, Sukhoi-30 MKI, indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Jaguar, transporters C130J and C17, force multipliers IL-76 airborne warning and control system and an Embraer 145 airborne early warning and control aircraft, Jhamb said.
USAF participated in the exercise with F-15E Strike Eagles, B1B bombers, transport aircrafts C130J and C17 and special operations aircraft MC130J, he said.
Briefing reporters following the manoeuvres and a static display of the aircrafts, IAF's Jhamb said the bilateral air force training exercise is focused on Indo-US cooperation through exchange of air combat employment philosophy, enhancing existing capabilities and mutual understanding of force employment.
He said that Cope India 2023 is special as it involved first-time participation of IAF's Rafale aircraft and Tejas, and USAF's F15-E Strike Eagle fighters.
"Last two weeks witnessed intense flying operations by fighters, transport aircrafts and force multipliers," Jhamb, the exercise director of Cope India 2023, said.
He said multiple missions were flown together to enhance within visual range and beyond visual range combat employment in large force package.
The objectives of Cope India 2023 were to enhance mutual understanding of technical application of air power, and boost cohesion in combat operations and mutual understanding of air operations in large force package.
Air Officer Commanding, Kalaikunda Air Force Station, Air Commodore Ran Singh said the joint air exercise has provided an opportunity for both countries to learn from each other and improve military capabilities.
(With PTI Inputs)