19 Oct : Exercise ‘Cope India-09’, a five-day joint air exercise between Indian Air Force (IAF) and United States Air Force (USAF) got underway today at Air Force Station, Agra – a major transport airbase and one of the largest airbase in Southeast Asia. The exercise will give impetus to the existing Indo-US defence cooperation that has already seen the two nations organizing and participating in five such air exercises since 2003.
Those present at the opening ceremony included US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer, Senior Air Staff Officer, Central Air Command (CAC), Air Marshal S Varthaman and Air Officer Commanding, Agra, Air Commodore Shouvik Roy. The Directors for the exercise Group Captain Mathews Mammen of IAF and Colonel Raymond La Marche from USAF were also present at the opening ceremony.
“Strategic and defence cooperation is one of the key pillars of our growing and robust strategic partnership,” said the US Ambassador. “This exercise is a perfect example of how the U.S. Air Force and the Indian Air Force are working together – sharing information, training and expertise to develop as professional forces,” he added.
The exercise will train and expose IAF air warriors to a variety of missions in joint operations in a simulated hostile scenario. The objectives for the exercise include learning about each other’s operational aspects; validate procedures for operations towards internal security, airborne assault operations and NVG (night vision goggles) aided tactical operations.
“One of the major exercises also includes exposure to modern air delivery techniques and management of mass casualties at base and medical evaluation of critical patients by air,” informed Gp Capt Mammen, the IAF Exercise Director. “Rapid insertion of troops and combat search and rescue are among the other major exercises that will be practiced,” said USAF Exercise Director Col La Marche explaining how a downed pilot is sometimes rescued from enemy or hostile territory.
USAF has flown-in three C-130H Hercules, one C-17 Globemaster and one C-130J Super Hercules and 180 personnel for the exercise. The IAF is fielding three AN-32 from Central Air Command, one AN-32 each from Eastern and Southern Air Command, two Mi-17 1V from Western Air Command and one Chetak helicopter from CAC for SAR (Search and Rescue) with force strength of 270 air warriors.