India-U.S. air exercise ‘Cope India’ to begin next week, Japan to be observer

The exercise will see intense air manoeuvres aimed at improving interoperability

April 03, 2023 11:28 pm | Updated April 04, 2023 07:36 am IST - NEW DELHI

File image of Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale.

File image of Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Continuing the military-to-military engagement, the Air Forces of India and the U.S. are set to conduct the Cope India exercise from April 10 to 21 at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal, with Japan as an observer.

The exercise will see intense air manoeuvres aimed at improving interoperability, a defence source said.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to field its frontline fighters SU-30MKI, Rafale and the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft along with force multipliers, while the U.S. Air Force is expected to bring in F-15 fighter jets.

The Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) participated in Cope India as an observer for the first time in December 2018 based on the Agreement of Defence Ministerial Meeting on August 20, 2018.

As was reported by The Hindu then, the U.S. proposed a trilateral air exercise between the three countries and so Japan was included as an observer with the intention to elevate it into trilateral level in phases.

The India-U.S. bilateral Malabar naval exercise became trilateral with the edition of Japan in 2015 and further brought in all the Quad partners together with the inclusion of Australia in 2020.

In January this year, India and Japan held the maiden air exercise Veer Guardian hosted by the JASDF.

The armed forces had a hectic exercise so far this year, both bilateral and multilateral. Last month, the IAF for the first time joined the multilateral Ex Cobra Warrior hosted by Royal Air Force in the U.K.

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